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Hudson - Litchfield News | February 17, 2012 - 3 Girl Scouts Have Winter Fun

Superintendent Candidates Address Parents’, Residents’ Questions

Litchfield Girl Scout Troop 10458 enjoyed an evening of snow tubing at McIntrye Ski Area.

Quick Thinking Probably Saved Woman’s Life

by Kristen Hoffman The Litchfield School District has narrowed the pool of Superintendent candidates to three front-runners. On February 13, the Litchfield School Board invited students, parents and community members to Campbell High School to meet the three contenders. Dr. Brian Cochrane, Mary Ellen Ormond, and Trevor Erbel are the candidates for the position. The School Board received 22 applications for the position. Ten of those applications were passed up from the start. Twelve applicants were interviewed, and from there, the final three were chosen. Cochrane currently works with the Superintendent of Nashua Schools. He has been with the Nashua School District for a little over four years. Prior to working in Nashua, he was the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett. Ormond is currently the Assistant Superintendent with the Hudson School District. Erbel is the Superintendent at the Wilton-Lyndeborough School District. He has held past positions in the Littleton, NH School District. The event was set up in a question and answer style

setting. Each of the candidates was stationed in different rooms surrounding the library. Attendees were able to filter in and out of rooms and ask candidates about their opinions and personal visions relating to the schools they work at now, and what they see in the future for Litchfield. “I asked all of them the same question,” Tim Finnegan, said, and gave an example, “It wasn’t, what’s your stand on homework, but, how do you determine your stand on the homework issue.” According to Finnegan, he asked questions in that manner to illicit a personal response. Finnegan added that all of the candidates were impressive, but it was about finding the right fit for the district. Many parents were concerned on the teacher-student relationships within the school, and ways a Superintendent could stimulate and motivate teachers to do the best they can. According to Cochrane, there are two things a Superintendent can do for the School District they serve: Articulate a vision, and mess up. For Cochrane, running a school is about working together in all facets of the system in order to better the community. “Schools and communities are big, complex places, and we all need to be rowing in the same direction,” Cochrane, places that need guidance, not new initiatives thrown around at will. Cochrane pointed to his experience in Nashua, the

Showing the signs of the heavy black smoke that filled the house, Capt. Dave Morin, Dennis Haerinck, Dean Sulin, Sean Mamone, Glen Bradish, before they returned to the station.

state’s second largest school district with about 12,000 students and a staff of about 900, as giving him a unique point of view when it comes to managing many students, faculty, and staff members. According to Cochrane, Nashua North and South High Schools have doubled the number of students taking AP tests in the past two years. Some AP courses in Nashua High Schools are even worth two college credits. The Nashua School District has started some new programs in the past few years, including “Board Workshops,” to help School Board members recognize the unique challenges teachers and students face, as a way to better run the system. He added, “I have yet to meet a [School] Board member who doesn’t want the best for the schools. Adding on to that, he pointed out the significance of the classroom, and what is happening when students walk through the door everyday. Cochrane added that Litchfield’s SAT scores are below both the state average and the national average, which can be changed with some work. Mary Ellen Ormond has worked with

Remains of the refrigator which is believed as where the fire started

On her first week alone dispatching emergency calls, Katherine Saunders, hired just six weeks ago by the Hudson Fire Department, notified Captain David Morin of a house fire on Westchester Court. The homeowner had taken shelter in a bathroom due to smoke and fire engulfing her home. Upon arrival, Captain Morin reported smoke showing from the residence and immediately requested arriving Ladder 2 and crew to assist with rescuing the homeowner as Engine 2 went to work gaining entry into the home and fighting the fire. The Engine 2 Crew found Patricia Lennon in the bathroom. Captain Morin stated that her quick thinking to take refuge in the bathroom and staying there most likely saved her life. Morin, who was inside the house noted that the first bathroom they encountered was empty but due to smoke they had to feel the walls while looking for Lennon. Firefighter Glenn Bradish found her in the second bathroom and carried her through the smoke to safety. The bulk of the fire was contained to the kitchen, the room of origin, and the homeowner was assisted out of the building safely. The fire started in the kitchen and the investigation has been

narrowed down to the area in and around the refrigerator. The fire appears to be accidental in nature. There was heat, smoke and water damage in the first floor, and some water in the basement. Lennon was treated and held for observation at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua.

Litchfield in 2002, as the Director of the Curriculum. At the time, Hudson and Litchfield were still under the umbrella of SAU 81. “I’m a proponent of strategic planning,” Ormond said. Most of the questions Ormond received were relating to the age, condition and curriculum of Litchfield’s schools. A parent brought up the issue of building a new school to replace Griffin Memorial School, a building that has parts dating back to 1930. “It’s hard to sell a bond for a new building when you see enrollment decline,” Ormond said. The number of students in the District has dropped from a high of nearly

1,700 in 2006, to just over 1,500 in 2011. She added that there is also a list of facility needs in Hudson, and the administration is constantly finding ways of working with what they have. Ormond added that a District’s education philosophy is a very important characteristic, and that she likes the philosophies of Litchfield. According to Ormond, Litchfield students receive some of the highest NECAP scores in the state. As the Assistant Superintendent for Hudson, Ormond filled in for Superintendent Randy Bell for extended periods of time during his recent health issues. Bell announced three weeks ago that he was retiring from Hudson as of July 1, a situation that originally put Ormond in a difficult place. “I told them [the Hudson School Board and District] that I was committed to Litchfield,” Ormond added, she likes where Litchfield is heading. Trevor Erbel has been at the Wilton-Lyndeborough

School District for three years now. According to Erbel, he was the third Superintendent in that district in three years, a feat that eclipses Litchfield’s count of three superintendents in five years. The Wilton-Lyndeborough School District is smaller than Litchfield, with only 644 students in the district. According to Erbel, the increase in student population presents an obvious challenge, but it is not one he is unwilling to take, moving his family to Litchfield. Erbel was asked about challenges he may face with aging facilities in Litchfield, “Each community presents new challenges with facilities,” Erbel said, adding some schools in his district are over 100 years old. “It’s important to be able to articulate clearly with the

school community,” Erbel said, adding that the school community does not end at the schools, but rather, it extends out to local residents, police departments and fire departments, and that requires community wide support by all, not just those who are employed by the district. Prior to being a superintendent, Erbel was a middle school social studies teacher.

All candidates brought their unique experiences to the event. Parents and students were invited to fill out questionnaires about their experience, and which candidate they thought will be the best fit for Litchfield. The School Board will announce who will be the next superintendent later this month.

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