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MHS Principal Search Begins

Former Montpelier High School Principal Renee DeVore. Courtesy photo.
The Montpelier Roxbury Public School district will use an outside consultant to assist in the process of searching for a new Montpelier High School principal, according to the administration. A search committee will hold its first meeting this week. Principal Renee DeVore resigned in January. The search raises a larger issue of how the state of Vermont plans to invest in retention amid staff shortages while also supporting staff mental health needs. 

“The search process is being led by Elaine Pinckney, former superintendent of Champlain Valley School District,” superintendent Libby Bonesteel said.  The committee includes three students, one school board member (also a parent), one parent, one district administrator, and nine high school staff members.

“The committee has not decided on candidates yet,” Bonesteel said. “We hope to have the first interview round in early March. The finalists will be announced to the public when the committee forwards their names. Once finalists are named, we will have a full day where community members and caregivers can come meet candidates, ask questions, and offer feedback.”

Despite limited details on how the community can participate, Bonesteel reiterated “parents are on the interview committee.” But the question remains as to why the current Montpelier High School Principal, Renee DeVore, resigned. 

While DeVore’s resignation letter states that she is looking for opportunities elsewhere, in an interview last week, she spoke about prioritizing her mental health. 

“I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time working on myself over the past 10 years (I’ve been a principal for 15), to be the best version of myself — professionally and personally. When I reflect back on those years, what kept coming up repeatedly for me is that who I am as a person doesn’t always align with who I sometimes have to be as a principal,” DeVore said.

“Ultimately,” she continued, “I’ve promised myself that I want to live my best life and live it with authenticity. Authentically speaking, being a principal is an incredibly challenging position that often (if not always) puts others’ needs in front of oneself. For the first time ever in my career, I broke down this year. After much coaxing from those I trust, I took a month away from work to focus on my mental health.  That time was hard, but it was also a wake-up call to pay better attention to my needs. Focusing on ourselves is tough when you’re responsible for making sure everyone else is okay! There are some deeper concerns I have about MHS that may have expedited this decision, but I’d rather focus on the fact that this decision is really based on a need over many years to let go of a career that, in many ways, is not how I want my life to be measured.” 

DeVore started as Montpelier High School Principal July 1, 2019, after a national search. The pandemic hit six months later. On Jan. 12, 2022, DeVore submitted a letter of resignation. On Jan. 18, the job listing for a new MHS Principal was posted. 

According to Schoolspring.com, the application asks: “What role does the leader have in developing a healthy culture and climate amongst the staff?” Staff shortages across Vermont reflect a national movement where school staff reflect on personal values and working conditions amid the pandemic.

“The voice of the Montpelier and MHS community is paramount when selecting the new principal,” DeVore said. “It was something that was evident when I came on board, and I’m certain that the process will include those voices from start to finish.”