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Chris Blair appointed principal of the Ed Fenn Elementary School

May 28, 2014
GORHAM — The Gorham-Randolph-Shelburne Cooperative School District school board voted unanimously at its May 19 meeting to appoint Christopher Blair of Portland, Oregon, as the new Ed Fenn School (EFS) principal at an annual salary of $67,000.

Blair earned his Bachelor's degree in journalism in 1992, and now holds two Master's degrees: Education in 1995 and Educational Administration, completed in February.

Blair has worked in and out of public schools both as a principal and classroom teacher.

The 10-person interview committee made up of EFS staff, District administrators, and parents unanimously recommended that he be nominated for the post. Descriptive comments from the interview committee included: "passionate, data-driven, positive" and "experienced leader."

The EFS currently enrolls 194 students who are taught by 19 teachers, including a guidance counselor, along with 16 para-educators.

SAU 20 Superintendent Paul Bousquet reported that Blair is very excited about coming to Ed Fenn.

Part of Blair's reply to a written question about what attributes are important in a school building leader outlined his understanding of the role: "My job as a building principal is not to overcome every obstacle and right every wrong. My job is to create conditions under which the school staff and our students can be the most effective.

"For this reason, I practice facilitative leadership. That's fancy way of saying that my job is to maintain an environment that helps other people to succeed. I'll want everyone — from the youngest preschooler to the teacher who's worked for 25 years — to know that they are a part of what makes the building work. I'll spare everyone the manifesto of what this entails — involving stakeholders, using data to drive instruction, building coaltions, etc. — and instead simply, humbly ask for the opportunity to do the job."

Blair, who found the job opening through SchoolSpring, explained in his cover letter that he and his wife were relocating to New Hampshire this summer and that he had already secured his N. H. license.

"I have 17 years of teaching experience in all subjects," he wrote. "Ten years of my experience took place at a public school position near Cottage Grove, Ore., where I established a self-contained middle school classroom. I taught all subjects for three grade levels. It was a joy to work with parents and families, meeting my students where they were at and respecting their families' values, while also bringing them the most up-to-date instruction and classroom technology. My students, despite coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, achieved some of the highest scores in the county.

"When I moved to Portland (Ore.) in 2007, I ran a private school program as principal, while also teaching math and astronomy. It was my privilege to reform the school and turn it into a successful contracting agency with Portland Public Schools. In addition, I also oversaw my school's first-ever accreditation in 2010, ensuring that our students would be able to restart their education and have their credits count at their schools of origin. I am most proud, however, in forging productive, positive relationships with my students, few of whom had experienced success in school."

Blair also pointed out that he had actively prepared for his return to working in public schools and had spent time at Faubion Elementary School in Northeast Portland working on an administrative practicum as part of a Master's degree program. "I'm getting advanced training in collecting and applying formative assessment data to classrooms to increase their performance," he wrote. "I pride myself on being an instructional coach and expert manager. In short, I am a veteran administrator who continues to learn more every day."

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