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Saturday, July 20, 2013

New principal will lead 2 schools

WILTON – Tim O’Connell’s resume doesn’t include being principal of two schools at the same time, but that doesn’t really faze him, since Florence Rideout Elementary School and Lyndeborough Central School have never before shared a principal. The new position was created in March and O’Connell took over the job July 1.

“It will be a challenge, leading two staffs at two different schools,” he said while touring both
buildings on Monday. “It’s an arrangement that will put all of my management skills to the test, but I’ll prevail.” ...

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WILTON – Tim O’Connell’s resume doesn’t include being principal of two schools at the same time, but that doesn’t really faze him, since Florence Rideout Elementary School and Lyndeborough Central School have never before shared a principal. The new position was created in March and O’Connell took over the job July 1.

“It will be a challenge, leading two staffs at two different schools,” he said while touring both
buildings on Monday. “It’s an arrangement that will put all of my management skills to the test, but I’ll prevail.”

The two schools are very similar, O’Connell said. “They have the same or similar needs.”

Lyndeborough had about one-third of the elementary school population the cooperative district.

O’Connell’s tentative plan is to be at both schools for part of each day, he said, alternating where he will start the day.

“Each school will have a head teacher designated to handle any emergency or crisis situation until I can get there,” O’Connell said.

The distance between the two schools is “about 10 minutes. That proximity is an advantage,” O’Connell said.

“Having two schools will give me a more global perspective, such as aligning curriculum. All the students should have the same experiences before they arrive at the middle school,” O’Connell said. “My role is to be sure that alignment occurs.”

O’Connell grew up in Brookline and graduated from Hollis Area High School and Plymouth State College.

He taught in Brookline from 1996-2006, then returned to Plymouth to earn his master’s degree in administration. His most recent position was in Winchendon, Mass., and he had previously served as principal of Reed’s Ferry School in Merrimack.

He used to live in Wilton so he is familiar with the area. He, his wife and their two sons live in Milford.

O’Connell said the biggest challenge currently facing staff is adapting to the Common Core Curriculum, national standards recently endorsed by the state Department of Education.

“The staff has to become acquainted with it,” he said.

The state recently received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind which eliminates the “school is need of improvement” designation for schools that did not achieve required levels of progress.

“We will continue to test and evaluate,” O’Connell said, but it will be different criteria.

“I’ve become very impressed with the (district wide) extended school year for special needs students,” he said, which serves students from kindergarten through grade eight. Those classes are held at Florence Rideout.

All students regress during the summer, he said, “and it is very important for parents to work with children over the summer, read to them, visit libraries.”

Schools open the last week of August.

“I’m very excited to be here,” O’Connell said. “I can’t wait to meet all of the students on opening day and meet the rest of the staff.”

O’Connell will host a meet-and-greet ice cream social at Goss Park on Thursday, Aug. 31, from 3:30-5:30 p.m.