Mary Ellen Ormond, center, talks to community members about her past experience as an educator and an administrator in the Hudson School District. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012MEREDITH—On Thursday, April 5, SAU #2, comprised of Ashland, Meredith, Center Harbor and Sandwich, invited community members to Interlakes Regional High School to meet the two finalists for a position as the district's new superintendent.
Visitors met with Marie Ross and Mary Ellen Ormond to ask questions and hear about their experience and accomplishments in education.
Ormond, a new face in town, is currently serving as the Associate Superintendent of the Hudson School District, SAU #81. Her experience includes working as a classroom teacher for about six years, and a Special Education Director for around 12 years.
In talking with community members, Ormond highlighted her creative money saving plans that have been a success in Hudson.
"I was able to do some pretty creative things," said Ormond. "I was able to have a fiber connection in all of the schools. All of the schools are hooked up by red boxes to the fire department in case of an emergency."
Ormond said that it is the little things and creative ways she saves the school district money that are important.
"I look for those opportunities, those little physical opportunities, where I can be creative and provide something to the school at minimal cost," she explained.
Ormond spent a lot of time talking to community members about technology in the classroom, noting that things like new technology or hybrid classes will not only help students learn, but also prepare them for higher education and help them to be adaptable to any type of learning situation.
"A lot of classes are implementing hybrid courses; half in the classroom and half online," said Ormond. "It is absurd that we are paying $130 for a textbook, and it is so important to prepare students to be adaptable."
Ormond told community members about how passionate she gets about education and teaching, telling a story about going to an Apple Store to purchase two iPads for visually impaired students with her own money because she believed that these devices would help students to learn better.
"How do you provide practical application for these kids where they will have the skills to prepare them for the environment we are in?" said Ormond.
Teachers keeping up to date on technology in the classroom was also a point that Ormond touched upon, noting that training staff members of all different skill levels is not an effective way to teach technology.
"Training the staff as one group is not productive," said Ormond. "Everybody comes at it from a different point of view and different levels. We need to look at each person as an individual. I don't think training in technology is a one size fits all."
Another big point that Ormond made was the idea of accountability, where schools need to be more accountable, teachers need to be more accountable, and Ormond herself noted that as Superintendent, she would hold herself accountable.
"I think people want schools to be accountable," said Ormond. "I think accountability is important, and I think as we move forward, the public will want the schools to be accountable, and the public will want more choice and more freedom."
Ormond noted that her degree in Stratigic Planning from an educational point of view and her "project management background" will help her to be a great superintended for the school district.
"The best thing you can do as a superintendent is to be transparent, to be open and to communicate openly," said Ormond. "The role of superintendent, when it comes to strategic planning, is to implement the plan, and that we are accountable to that strategic management plan."
Ormond also talked about the function of schools in a community, saying the snowstorm this past October was a valuable learning experience for her, and made her realize how connected a town is to their school.
"That October snowstorm was a huge learning experience for me," said Ormond. "Our shelter was Nashua North. No one crossed the bridge to use the shelter, and I realized that Hudson was its own community, and that we need to open a building in Hudson to feed the community. The school district is the heart of your town, and we need to act that way."
A candidate much closer to home, Marie Ross also met with community members to address her views and background in education.
Ross, currently serving as the superintended of the Newfound Area School District, is a familiar face for many in the area. Ross garnered than 20 years of teaching experience before becoming Newfound Area School District's superintendent in 2005.
Ross studied as a Math/ Physics Major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. from 1972-74. She received her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Notre Dame College in Manchester in 1989. Ross received her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Notre Dame College in 1997, and attended Rivier College in Nashua from 1999 to 2002, where she underwent a Principal Certification Program, NH certification, Principal CAGS in Leadership and Learning coursework.
In 2004, Ross attended Plymouth State University, receiving a CAGS in Educational Leadership and NH Certification to be a superintendent. Most recently, in 2009, Ross received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Argosy University in Sarasota, writing her dissertation on "Evaluating Extended time for Mathematics Intervention for Kindergarten Students in a New Hampshire School."
Throughout her extensive career in education, Ross has worked at several different schools, starting with Grace Christian School in Merrimack from 1985-1988, where she taught grades seven and eight and was a fifth and sixth math and science teacher. From 1989- 1997, Ross was a teacher at Reeds Ferry Elementary School in Merrimack, teaching fifth grade in a self-contained inclusionary classroom and serving as the science curriculum facilitator.
From 1997 to 2002, Ross worked in the Nashua School District as an Interdisciplinary Curriculum Specialist for science, health and physical education. During her time there from 2001-2002, Ross also served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at her Notre Dame College, teaching graduate courses including Curriculum Development and Current Issues in Education, as well as some undergraduate courses, such as Middle Level Education, Understanding the Philosophy of Education and Integrating the Curriculum.
From 2002-2005, Ross served as Assistant Superintendent for the Laconia School District until being appointed Superintendent of the Newfound Area School District in 2005. Ross has also been serving as an Adjunct faculty member at Plymouth State University from 2004 to the present, where she teaches about Curriculum Integration and Performance-Based Assessment.
Aside from Ross' efforts in the classroom, both as an academic and an educator, she has been part of several state committees and has rooted professional affiliations.
Ross has been involved with several state committees throughout her career. She served on the NHEIAP Science grade six Test Item Development Committee from 1998 to 2001, and from 2002 to 2003, she served on the Professional Development Regional Center Task Force. From 2006 to 2009, Ross was part of the Commissioner's Leadership Advisory Council, and from 2009 to the present, she has served on the NH Educational Collaborative.
Ross has also had many professional affiliations throughout her career as well. From 1993 to 1996, Ross was affiliated with the National Science Foundation Project R.I.S.E. (Regional Institute for Science Education). From 1994 through 1996, she was part of the Southeast Regional Education Service Center (SERESC) as part of the Elementary Leadership Team. From 1997 until 1999, Ross was part of the NHSTA Board of Directors, and from 1992 through 2002, she was part of the National Science Teachers Association.
From 2003 to 2008, Ross was part of the Delta Kappa Gamma, Theta Chapter, and from 2004 to 2008, she was a member of Phi Kappa Delta, the Plymouth State University Chapter.
Currently, Ross still has several professional affiliations, including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, New Hampshire Administrators Association, Lakes Region School Administration Association and Regional Education Lab- Northeast and the Islands Governing Board.
All of Ross' hard work and dedication to education and professional development over the years has led her to receive a slew of awards, honors and recognition. In 1994, Ross received the Presidential award for Excellence in Science Teaching. In 1995, she received several awards and honors, including NH elementary Science Teacher of the Year, NH Excellence in Education, and a nomination for Alumni of the year at Notre Dame College. She was a panelist on Science Curriculum Frameworks for the Education Exchange (NHPTV Knowledge Network), and was a NH Science Curriculum Frameworks Addendum on the Kindergarten through sixth grade writing team.
From 1998 until 2001, Ross received a commendation at the Project PACT (Parents and Children Together) conference for parents and grade seven students in Nashua. Ross was awarded the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant as the grant author; in 2004, she was recognized in NHASS Aspiring Administrator Scholarship; and in 2008, she received the John W. True Award from Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth (CADY).
Ross has demonstrated that she is not only a leader in the classroom and as an administrator, but that she is a leader in the community, as well. Ross was part of the Lakes Region United Way Board of Directors from 2002-2003, was a member of the Upstream Parenting Committee from 2003-2005, and is presently involved in the Bristol Lions Club, New Hampton Community Church Worship Team, and as a member of the Bristol Rotary Club.