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Superintendent juggles Winnisquam administrators

July 15, 2009
TILTON — A last-minute resignation from Winnisquam Regional High School's principal prompted several shifts among district administrators.

Kimberly Saunders, who had been the principal at WRHS for two years, resigned mid-June to take a position as assistant superintendent of the ConVal School District in Peterborough. Winnisquam Superintendent Tammy Davis said she hadn't been aware that Saunders had been applying elsewhere until Saunders told her she might get a call about a recommendation. After Saunders' resignation, Davis was left with little time before the start of the 2009-2010 school year to find a principal.

"(Hiring) a highly qualified interim principal would, I felt, put us back a year," Davis said in a phone interview last week.

Instead, she offered the position to the school's assistant principal, Mikel LaChapelle. In a letter sent out to district staff, Davis said LaChapelle "respectfully declined" the offer because his career goal is to become an elementary school principal. LaChapelle had previously applied for the principal position at Sanbornton Central School, but that job was given to Ronna Cadarette, who has been the vice principal of the middle school for one year. However, once the high school principal position opened up, Cadarette agreed to take that job instead.

"I strongly believe that she can handle this," Davis said.

In her staff letter, Davis cited Cadarette's "strong background in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development" as critical in leading the high school to meet accreditation requirements.

With the SCS principal position up for grabs again, Davis offered the job to LaChapelle, who had been a finalist in the original principal search. According to the letter, "The interview team felt strongly that he would also be a good fit for SCS."

"He was very upfront about what his goal was," Davis said. "The move made sense."

Shannon Kruger has been hired to take Cadarette's place as the assistant principal at WRMS; she had previously been the Back on Track coordinator at that school. Davis said last week that she was in the process of interviewing candidates for the assistant principal position at the high school and hoped to hire someone this week.

According to Davis' letter, Sandie Sterling, who just retired as SCS principal, has agreed to work in July and possibly August to help the district through these transitions. That will allow LaChapelle to work with Cadarette on high school goals and Sterling to work with LaChapelle in his transition to the elementary school.

With these changes in place, Davis said she believes the school district will start out the new school year with a strong administrative team.

"I feel very confident," Davis said.

Varney Smith
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