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Interim Shaker superintendent is no stranger to the job

Retired educator and administrator Tom Haley is still getting accustomed to his role as interim superintendent of Shaker Regional School District, but said he is enjoying the temporary job and the great support of school administrators and staff who work at the district office and the four schools SAU 80 encompasses. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 09, 2011
BELMONT — Tom Haley may be new in his role as interim superintendent for the Shaker Regional School District, but he is no stranger to the job.

In fact, he was even familiar with the Shaker School Board from consultant work he had done in the past through the New Hampshire School Board Association.

Haley retired from a position as a superintendent in the Pembroke area in 2008, and moved to Belmont, where he looked forward to enjoy life and his hobbies. A recent a phone call changed all of that, temporarily at least, when former superintendent Mark Blount tendered his resignation just as the new 2011-12 school year had gotten underway.

Haley said he received a call "out of the blue" one day to meet with the school board.

"I've been in Belmont about a year and a half, and I decided as a townsperson, I should at least go in and find out what the situation was," he said.

It was there he learned of the upcoming vacancy in the superintendent's office and was asked if he would consider filling that slot as a search committee was formed to find a fulltime replacement.

"There are a lot of retired superintendents who do that sort of thing, moving around as an interim in districts, but I had always said I wouldn't do that," Haley said. "I met with a subgroup of the board, though, heard their expectations, and decided I would give it a try this time."

After his second week on the job, Haley found that filling in to help his local community wasn't "a bad thing at all." He said he had always believed Shaker Regional to be a good school district, providing a high level of education through a great staff. His recent visits to each of the schools have backed up that belief.

"They've had a good reputation, and from my knowledge and perspective, I knew I was coming into a fabulous organization. It's worked out well so far and I'm pleased with what I've seen," said Haley.

As a newcomer to SAU 80, however, he has had his own "homework" to do, reading past news, minutes and budgets as part of the learning curve for the job. Committing himself to the board at only 20 hours per week for the job, Haley has come to rely on others to help with some of the duties in running a school district.

"The principals at the schools have really stepped up and taken on work normally done by the superintendent. Emily (Speare, Belmont Elementary School Principal) and Mary (Morrison, Canterbury Elementary School Principal) are working on the Strategic Planning process for me but that's just one of many examples," said Haley.

What has come as a pleasant surprise for him was meeting the staff at the district office, who have also been assisting him in many ways. While Haley had met board members through his consulting with the School Board Association, he had never met the staff of the SAU office until last month. He said all who work there have been friendly and helpful as he acclimates himself to the job, and he is very grateful for all of their assistance.

"I'm floored by their efficiency and the amount of work they've taken on here," said Haley.

When not working, he continues to enjoy hobbies such as working around his home, reading and kayaking. He and his wife Jean also enjoy traveling when time allows. Together, they have visited Hawaii, the Barrier Islands along the Georgia and South Carolina seacoast, and many of the country's national parks. The couple has two grown daughters, and when one was studying in Ireland for a year, Haley said they were able to visit her and see the sights of the Emerald Isle, too.

Haley holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from Westfield College in Massachusetts, and received his Certificate of Advance Graduate Studies from the University of New Hampshire. His past roles in education include many years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, headmaster at Pembroke Academy, assistant superintendent and finally superintendent of SAU 83, which is comprised of students from Pembroke, Allenstown, Epsom, Deerfield and Chichester.

Because incoming administrators generally begin work at the start of the fiscal year in July, Haley said he has agreed to stay in the position until the end of the school year if no successful candidate is selected who can start before then.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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