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Shaker makes a 'super' choice

Mark Blount, assistant superintendent of the Londonderry School District, was named the successor to Shaker Regional School District Superintendent Michael Cozort last week. Cozort will be retiring at the end of June. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
April 14, 2010
BELMONT — The search for a successor to school Superintendent Michael Cozort is over, as Mark Blount, currently the assistant superintendent of the Londonderry School District, has accepted the job.

Last November the Shaker Regional School Board formed a committee to search for possible candidates for the job when they received notice that Cozort would be retiring at the end of this school year. In the interview process, they toured the district of each of three finalists they had selected and brought them for visits to schools within Shaker Regional School District as well. School Board Chairman Diane O'Hara said it had been a long process but an educational one as well.

"It's been challenging to make a decision. This wasn't easy," she said.

The other two final candidates for the position were Dr. Maureen Ward, assistant superintendent of the Winnacunnet School District, and Lois Goscinski, director of pupil personnel services at Moultonboro Academy. All three finalists had impressive qualifications and strengths to offer, O'Hara said, which made the final decision difficult.

The announcement of Blount's selection came at a School Board meeting last week in Canterbury. Blount said that he was honored and thrilled to be chosen as Cozort's successor.

"Under the leadership of Mike Cozort, Shaker Regional is known around the state as an exemplary district. I was impressed to see how much it was supported by the two communities, and I'm very pleased to be the next superintendent for them," he said.

Raised in Michigan, Blount moved to New Hampshire with his wife and two children seven years ago to become assistant superintendent in Londonderry. At a Meet the Candidates-style event in March he had stated he was attracted to the position in the Shaker Regional School District for many reasons. Award-winning teachers, administrators and students spoke well of the district, he said. He was also impressed by the parents who volunteer their time at the four schools.

Blount said at the candidate night that he felt strongly about community involvement as a means to keep costs down. One thing a community can always afford is time, he said, and entwining the community within the school system creates quality schools where children benefit from the knowledge, skills and talents of those around them.

Blount and the other two candidates underwent a rigorous interview process and were even questioned by students at Belmont High School when touring the district one day. Blount said students stopped him in the hall as he walked through the school with Principal Russ Holden and invited him to come to their biology classroom and talk with them so that they could get to know him better.

"I was delighted. They had some very good questions and I was happy to get a chance to speak with them," said Blount.

Blount brings 24 years of experience as an educator to his new job, along with 17 years in school administration.

Regarding recent reports on drug abuse and sexual activities amongst students in the district concern Blount, and he said schools and parents need to be cognizant and alert to these types of behaviors. Parents need to be educated in the signs that young people are involved in dangerous practices. In a previous position as a community education director in Coopersville, Mich., he helped apply for a three-quarter million dollar grant for juvenile justice and delinquency for a district that did not have a school resource officer. The group later formed a non-profit agency to maintain funding for the program when the grant money was depleted.

"I'm very proud to say we got funding for two people, and that program still exists today to help the students in that district," he said.

Blount said he received a phone call from Cozort after the announcement was made and the two are now preparing for the transition and the future of the Shaker School District.

"Mike called to congratulate me, and we set up a meeting for next week to begin that process," he said.

Blount will assume the new role as Shaker Regional School District Superintendent on July 1 and said he is greatly looking forward to working with the staff, teachers, students and parents of Belmont and Canterbury.

He resides in Bow, where his daughter and son attend Bow High School.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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