Six New Administrative StaffThree of the district’s four schools have new principals, although one of them simply switched locations. Katie Barea moved from leading the Main Street Middle School last year to become principal at Union Elementary. Julie Conrad, a math specialist who came from Georgia (Vt.) Middle School, replaces Barea at MSMS. Jason Gingold takes over as principal at Montpelier High School, replacing Renee DeVore. Emily Therrien is the new assistant principal at MHS. The district also has a new business manager, Christina Kimball, who replaces Grant Geisler. Kimball is familiar with the district’s budget, having worked as assistant business manager. Jessica Murray was hired as director of social emotional learning and wellness, and Peggy-Sue Van Nostrand is the new director of student services. Bonesteel said taking care of students and staff after the intense anxiety of the peak COVID crisis is getting a lot more of the administration’s attention. “We’re really focused on wellness, what can we do to work within the system to make the teachers’ job more doable,” she said. The district this year is offering access to a third-party online counseling service, called Talkspace, for students, parents, and educators who need someone to talk anonymously about the stresses they feel. The pandemic, among other factors, has helped fuel a shortage of educators, as many elected to retire or seek non-classroom occupations. Bonesteel said the state legislature should consider easing the burden for relicensing teachers and could offer incentives, such as loan forgiveness, for teachers. Special educators, in particular, are in high demand, she said. The district is aware that isolation from the pandemic has elevated social challenges for many students and that has led to an increase in bullying and other behavior changes, and leaders are addressing the situation, Bonesteel said. “We hear from the community about the treatment of kids, and how kids are treating each other, and we need to do things differently to support kids and families to prevent these things from happening in the future. We are working with the board to see how we can do better.” The MRPS schools open August 25.
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