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Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

Jennifer Cava, the newly announced Director of the Academy for Science and Design in Merrimack sits for a portrait, Wednesday afternoon at the school.
Friday, March 30, 2012

Merrimack charter school names Jennifer Cava new director

MERRIMACK – At first, Jennifer Cava didn’t see herself as a candidate to lead the Academy for Science and Design.

That was until Cava, who has been acting director at the Merrimack charter since October, started reaching out to the education community and building relationships.

“I started seeing how I could actually be a very integral part of ASD moving forward,” she said. “I realized that I wanted to continue the work that I started this year.”

Cava was named the school’s new director this week. Board of trustees chairman Thomas Frischknecht said the board signed a two-year contract with Cava, after members unanimously expressed support to give her the position permanently.

Frischknecht said the school received several applications for the position, but said Cava brought an institutional knowledge of the school that others didn’t have.

“That school has not run better than it has under her watch,” Frischknecht said. “That’s a fact.”

Cava has been with the school since 2010, hired as an English teacher.

She was promoted to assistant director in the fall and has run the school in an acting role since director David Chauvette left for another job in October.

There will be a meet and greet event for parents and members of the public to meet Cava Friday at the school. The event will be at 4:30.

Cava said she wanted to continue the growth she has seen at the school this year as far as reaching out to the community. Students at the school have held clothing and toy drives, she said.

Cava wants to continue to reach out to different people and industries in the community and bring them into the school.

Even though it has been open for nearly five years, Cava said there are still lingering misconceptions about charter schools.

“I really see the school and all charter schools as something that really is serving the needs of young people in the state,” she said.

The school, located on Daniel Webster Highway since opening in fall 2007, has applied to the state to renew its charter, a process that is required every five years.

Board members also are negotiating a lease for a new location for the 2012-13 school year.

It’s not yet known whether the school will be staying in Merrimack, but school officials have said the school would stay in the Nashua-Manchester corridor.

With an enrollment of 295 students, the school’s current space in an office building is no longer suitable, school officials have said.

Cava’s new position takes effect July 1.

She will earn $70,000 in the first year and $75,000 in the second year of the contract.

The deadline for applications to the school for next year has already passed.

A public lottery will be held at the school Saturday, April 14, to determine which students will be able to enroll next year.

Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or