March 19, 2014MILAN Long-time kindergarten teacher Gerri St. Gelais has been named principal of the Milan Village School, following the hiring of current Principal Dave Backler as principal at the Gorham Middle High School.
The decision was made by the Milan School Board in a brief non-public session following last week's annual school district meeting.
St. Gelais came to the school nine and one-half years ago, at the same time Backler did. She has taught pre-K and kindergarten at the school, as well as being the librarian.
She was officially hired as interim principal. This is because she is working on, but has not yet completed, her administration certificate.
St. Gelais earned a bachelor of science in accounting and business management at New Hampshire College (now Southern N.H. University) in 1992 and a masters in education at Notre Dame College in Manchester, where she graduated with a 4.0 average, in 2001.
She is presently enrolled in the National Institute for School Leadership, being held at North Country Education Services. She will complete the rest of her work for her administration certificate at Plymouth University.
St Gelais has 13 years of teaching experience. Before coming to Milan, she was a first grade teacher in Goffstown.
St. Gelais will actually be a teaching principal, something that was important to her if she was going to pursue the position.
"I didn't want to lose that contact with students that teaching brings," she said.
She will be teaching kindergarten 8:30 12, after which she will be principal. But she will be available for principal matters the entire. There will be someone ready to take over her class if needed.
The school will be following the distributive leadership model, which means some teachers will be stepping up to take on more responsibilities.
"We are able to do this because we have such a veteran staff," she said.
Becoming a principal wasn't actually part of her plan because teaching has always been important to her, but when she learned she could do both, she felt it was the perfect position for her.
Students and staff were told on Friday during lunch, and reportedly everyone was thrilled, and relieved.
"I know all the parents, all the kids. They all know how hard I work, my values, that I want to continue taking the school in the direction it's going," she said.
Gerri and her husband Kevin live in Milan and own Saint Skis and Snowboards.