HAMPSTEAD – The next school year will see a completely new leadership team at the helm of Hampstead Middle School. Principal Patti Grassbaugh is retiring at the end of the current school year and Assistant Principal Lori Collins is leaving to become the Principal of Auburn Village School in Auburn.
Superintendent Earl Metzler said there are several steps involved in the process of replacing Collins, and they will include hiring the new principal first. He made it clear that the new principal has to be in place before attention is turned to replacing Collins, but said he has high hopes that the announcement of the new principal will happen at the School Board meeting scheduled for May 13.
“Right now we are focused on that,” he said.
But with Collins leaving, Metzler said he had sent word out to both Hampstead Central and Hampstead Middle School faculties that if anyone is interested in being an interim assistant principal, he or she should contact him. He said the schools have lots of talented staff members who could fill the position if they are interested.
“Personally, I think an in-house interim assistant principal would be the best way to ensure the continuity of the school,” he said. “If we were to go with an interim, we would want to do it for the entire school year. But first we need to have the principal in place and know their strengths and see how any interim candidates match up, because they will be a team and it has to be a good fit for the school.
“It will be an opportunity and a challenge to make a smooth transition to new leadership, but it is a strong school and a strong staff so we will first look inside for a strong candidate, and if there isn’t one that works, we will go through the outside selection process,” he added.
Collins, who came to HMS in July 2010 as the Director of Technology and moved to Assistant Principal just this year, said she sees the Auburn post as both a challenge and an opportunity. She follows two previous principals who stayed with the school for two years each. She accepted a two-year contract with a third year extension and said while she is sad to leave Hampstead, she is excited to be embarking on something entirely new.
“I will miss everyone at Hampstead,” she said. “I have really loved being there but there are lots of similarities between this school (Auburn) and Hampstead.”
Auburn is a Kindergarten-Grade 8 school and is classified as an elementary school. Collins said the school is entering a phase where it will be looking at engineering and architectural proposals for an addition and the disposal of its portable classrooms. The school has a smaller population than the two combined Hampstead schools but is closer to the Hampstead Middle School population.
“They need to upgrade and expand their technology infrastructure and I am excited and looking forward to being a part of that, but as a school their test scores aren’t that far behind Hampstead,” she said. “I see this new position as posing a challenge to improve test scores and improve the technology infrastructure without increasing the budget, but I think I can accomplish it. I want to dedicate the first year to getting to know my staff, my students and my new community. Changes will come but they will come from relationships and getting to know and understand the people, the school and the community.”
Collins starts her new position July 1 and said right now she plans to stay at HMS until all the scheduling is done and things are in place for the new leadership team, even if that means she is working right up to June 30.
“I just think there’s so much that can be accomplished that I am excited,” she concluded.