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Montpelier High School Gets a New Principal

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photo of man in suit with red bow ties, glasses.
Montpelier resident Jason Gingold will be the new Principal at the Montpelier High School. Courtesy photo.
One day after meeting students, staff and parents, Jason Gingold has been offered the job as Montpelier High School’s new principal. Gingold’s role becomes official when the school board votes on it tonight, Wednesday, March 16, at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.. 

He officially starts on July 1, 2022, according to Libby Bonesteel, superintendent of the Montpelier Roxbury Public School District. Gingold lives in Montpelier; he has two daughters who have graduated from MHS and another who’s a senior there now. 

“Jason knows our community well as he has watched his three daughters attend our schools,” wrote Bonesteel in an email to parents. “He is coming to us with a wealth of experience in technical education at both Randolph and Burlington. Jason impressed the school community with his calm presence and knowledge of system development.”

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Gingold said the job interview, which included meetings with students, staff, and parents “was a great, collaborative process. … I’m super excited for this opportunity. It felt like coming home.”

Bonesteel described the hiring process in an email to The Bridge. “Students and parents were asked to provide their hopes for the next principal at MHS prior to the interviews. These ideas were incorporated into the initial interview process. Views were represented in the form of questions asked of each candidate. Students and caregivers had the chance to meet the finalists and provide feedback that went directly to me during the second round of interviews.”

Gingold said he’s looking forward to working in the community in which he already lives. “It’s a boon when you see students and families out, and find out where they work and live and their interests.”

The changing of the guard heralds the end of the third year of pandemic schooling, in which local schools have mirrored national trends with severe staff shortages and administrative burnout — a factor that out-going principal Renee Devore cited as one reason for leaving the school in an interview with The Bridge in February. Devore started as MHS principal in July 2019, six months before the COVID-19 pandemic struck; she submitted her letter of resignation in January 2022. Devore had said various stressors led to a breakdown for the first time in her career, after which she took a month off to recuperate. She also cited “deeper concerns about MHS that may have expedited this decision.”

According to a poll it conducted in August 2021, the National Association of Secondary School Principals reports that “Forty-five percent of principals report that pandemic working conditions are accelerating their plans to leave the profession …”

The Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools have had three principal positions to fill, all for different reasons. 

Bonesteel notes “We knew we would be going into this year looking for a new principal for [Union Elementary School] because of Ryan Heraty’s late departure last year. [Main Street Middle School Principal] Katie Barea asked to be transferred into that position, filling UES but leaving a hole at MSMS. Renee DeVore is looking for opportunities outside of Vermont and education.”

But, Bonesteel continued, “Administrative positions can be a thankless and incredibly stressful job. These past three school years principals have held an enormous amount of stress and been charged with working with many competing, emotionally charged issues. I think many people want a fresh start with a different community or are looking to get out of education altogether.”

“I think through this pandemic, for any administrator … we’ve all taken steps to find that work–life balance,” Gingold said when asked how, as the new principal at Montpelier High School, he might prevent the kind of administrative burnout reported by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. He pointed to Montpelier’s “strong community” and support for schools, and said he both exercises to de-stress and participates in peer support groups. 

With school board approval, Gingold will start in his new role on July 1, 2022. In the meantime, the hiring committee for the Main Street Middle School principal search will be interviewing candidates on March 21, Bonesteel said. 

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