Principal Cascadden becomes Superintendent Cascadden

May 13, 2009
BERLIN — The SAU 3 Berlin Public Schools school board selected Berlin Elementary Schools Principal Corinne Cascadden to be the new superintendent in a unanimous vote during closed session Wednesday. Ms. Cascadden will replace Superintendent John Moulis, who retires July 1.

Mrs. Cascadden said she was overwhelmed and speechless when she first heard the news. She said she is excited to take on this new role.

"We're going to get things done, I'll tell you that," Mrs. Cascadden said.

Mrs. Cascadden has been the principal for the Berlin Elementary Schools for 23 years, and before that she was an elementary school teacher. She said she applied for the superintendent position because she was looking for a new professional challenge.

In addition to the Berlin position Mrs. Cascadden applied for a similar position in Littleton. She is glad she got the Berlin job, she said, because it was hard to consider moving. She was a finalist for the Littleton position, but she notified them she is no longer interested. She will be the first female superintendent for SAU 3.

School board and superintendent search committee member Nicole Plourde said she is happy with the selection. "The choice was very clear," she said.

Mrs. Plourde said the committee chose the best candidate. It is nice that she is local and familiar with the district, she said, but that in no way weighed on the committee's decision.

Mitch Couture, the chair of the school board, said he was pleased as well. "That's the type of leader I want," he said, "someone who's thoughtful and decisive."

Mr. Couture pointed to Mrs. Cascadden's ability to problem-solve as one of the assets he valued most.

"She's creative, thoughtful and decisive," he said.

He said she had proven experience getting grants to help fund her schools, and she had ideas for ways to access government stimulus money that impressed him.

Mrs. Cascadden was selected from a pool of seven applicants, which was narrowed to three finalists.

Mr. Couture said Littleton's having Mrs. Cascadden as a finalist sped up the selection process.

"When you have a good candidate you don't waste time," he said. He didn't want to see her go somewhere else, he said.

Mrs. Cascadden said even in the district she knows, the environment will be new. She said she has made transitions like this before. "I'll never forget the first day of school. I didn't have a classroom," she said. Mrs. Cascadden was an elementary school teacher before she became the principal.

The move will have its challenges, but she's excited to start.

"There are lots of little things that need to be looked at," she said, including the budget and preparing the schools for next year. She will be presiding over a smaller district than her predecessors — Bartlett and Marston Elementary Schools will close for good on June 16 as part of a school consolidation plan.

Mrs. Cascadden said she would like to see Berlin take part in the Safe Routes To School Program. The program reimburses towns for costs making it possible for children to walk or bike to school. Mr. Couture said Mrs. Cascadden was the only candidate to mention this type of creative idea to the school board. The program could allow the district to cut its transportation costs while allowing the city to improve the sidewalks. Mrs. Cascadden also pointed out the program's goal of walking and bike riding fits with district's wellness program.

Mrs. Cascadden said she is concerned about technology in the classroom. The financial resources are not currently there to have wireless Internet service in all the schools and computers in classrooms, but she said she recognizes the need for technological education. She said she was able to use state funding and grants to significantly improve the quality of education Berlin schools were offering as a principal, and she hopes to do similar things as the superintendent.

One of the most important things, Mrs. Cascadden said, is offering teachers new tools. She'd like to get performance tracking software that lets teachers follow students performance all school year, not just when grades come out. Another goal is making teachers feel valued.

"If the people who are here are happy they'll bring 150 percent," she said.

Mrs. Cascadden has been teaching since 1975, when she was graduated from Plymouth State University with a degree in French. She received her Master's in elementary education in 1982, her school principal certification in 1987, and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in education, administration and supervision from the University on New Hampshire in 1995. Her husband, Neil, teaches science at Berlin High School. Her two sons are Berlin High graduates, as is Mrs. Cascadden.

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