GMUSD board picks Conn. curriculum director as GM principal

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Lauren Fierman of Amston, Conn., was selected from three finalists to be the new principal at Green Mountain High School. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The Green Mountain Unified School District board which — beginning in July — will oversee the education of children from Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester, chose a new principal for Green Mountain High School last night.

After a two-hour deliberation, the board voted unanimously to negotiate a contract with  Lauren Fierman of Amston, Conn., to replace retiring principal Tom Ferenc in the next school year.

The board voted in public after The Telegraph pointed out in an earlier article that its agenda put it in violation of the state Open Meeting Law since it had members voting in executive session.

Fierman is the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at Regional School District No. 8 in Hebron, Conn., and has worked as a district data coach, an English department chair and a middle school teacher.

Earlier in the day, at sparsely attended public sessions with the candidates held at the high school immediately before the board meeting, Fierman said that while she was raised in Connecticut and has lived in many places, it was her experience at a summer camp near Rutland during the years of her childhood that made her want to live in Vermont.

Fierman said that her youngest son was out of school and on his own and for the past year she has been searching for a position with a school in Vermont that would be a good fit.

In addition to her work in education, Fierman holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and has owned and operated a stable and taught riding and dressage.

The GMUSD board interviewed the three finalists behind closed doors on Tuesday night.

The other candidates considered by the board were Carl Chambers of Etna, N.H. and GM Associate Principal Michael Ripley of Proctorsville.

Chambers has served as a director of curriculum for the Windsor Southeast and Windham Northeast supervisory unions, a principal and a high school teacher.

Besides serving as associate principal, Ripley  has worked as an assistant principal at Fall Mountain High in Alstead, N.H., and as a science teacher at Black River High in Ludlow.

During the public meetings, all three candidates expressed their enthusiasm for the changeover to Proficiency Based Learning as being best for the students, they also offered cautions. Ripley said it would be a struggle, but worthwhile to turn the attention from getting grades to getting an education. Chambers called PBL a culture shift but that it can also be done poorly if there isn’t a broad agreement on what the proficiency standards are from the outset.

The process began with 23 candidates who applied, but only 13 of those had the required qualifications. A search committee consisting of two GMUSD board members and six school employees next selected eight candidates to interview and narrowed that down to four for the second interviews. The committee then picked the three finalists who met with students, faculty and the public yesterday afternoon before being interviewed by the school board last night. While candidate interviews may be held in public, the board chose to hold the interviews in executive session.

With interviews completed, the board deliberated for nearly two hours. Just before 10 p.m. the board came out of executive session and voted unanimously to ask Superintendent Meg Powden to negotiate a contract with Fierman within a certain salary range that the board had determined and for a length to be determined by Powden.

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  1. Carmen Macchia says:

    Unfortunately for Mr. Ripley, the board and superintendent wanted to break from the Ferenc leadership. If they valued Tom’s legacy at the school, it would have been only logical to continue with the associate principal as the leader of the school. It is clear they want to go in a new direction. We only want what’s best for kids, right?

  2. Otis Nelson says:

    To me, it seems that this district has problems with transparency and other issues like being trustworthy to the people, students and taxpayers of this district! When they can involve the public they don’t! (i.e., entering into executive season when not needed.)

    That leads to more transparency issues and making trust an even greater issue! I also agree with Bruce, why not promote from within your own local district? I also agree with C. P., that Meg Powden is neither working for our students and nor our communities, and needs to go!

  3. Bruce McEnaney says:

    I’m heartsick that the position was not awarded to Mike Ripley. Not only does he already know the school but he is deeply involved in the community and its members.

  4. C.P. says:

    Next on the agenda for the community should be taking the steps to remove Meg Powden from her role as superintendent