CHESTER – New superintendent Darrell Lockwood has been getting familiar with Chester Academy and its community this summer as he takes over the responsibilities of School Administrative Unit (SAU) 82.
Lockwood came to the job in July following the retirement of Jim Gaylord, who served as interim superintendent for four years.
In the school halls many note that they had a lot of respect for Gaylord and think he did a great job with the district, but in that same breath they note that Lockwood is quickly growing on them and they’re excited about what he’ll bring to the job.
SAU 82 encompasses Chester Academy, the town’s kindergarten through eighth grade public school, and oversees Chester’s high school students, who are tuitioned at Pinkerton Academy.
Lockwood hasn’t been around the school every day this summer, as he’ll work more hours during the school year, but he’s been making sure to learn about the community he’s entering and he’s been taking free time to do so.
His position is part time.
Last week on a non workday he visited Chester to take part in the annual summer staff luncheon. Earlier this month he wore the Chester Academy team T-shirt with a group of Chester Academy runners in the CIGNA/Elliot Corporate 5K Road Race in Manchester.
He said he had a great time and by all reports the team was pleased to have him on board.
Lockwood comes to Chester from the Masconomet Regional School District in Massachusetts. But he was previously the superintendent for Tyngsborough Public Schools and before that the superintendent for SAU 19, serving Goffstown, Dunbarton and New Boston for a decade.
Lockwood said Masconomet was a fabulous school district but it was time to make a change and move closer to home.
His roots are in the area, from growing up in Derry to taking on his first superintendent role in Goffstown, where he currently resides.
The superintendent has said at school board meetings that it will take some time for the school board to get used to him and how he’s used to running a district, and vice versa, that it will take him some time to learn the culture in Chester.
Last week Lockwood noted that he’s interested in learning about the little things that make Chester Academy the place that it is, from field trips to annual events and everyday projects.
The new superintendent is looking forward to getting involved in classrooms whenever he can, whether that includes reading to the kids, visiting on the playground, taking part in career days or other projects.
“It’s one of the joys of being on campus,” said Lockwood, noting that not all SAUs are so close to the buildings they support.
He doesn’t want his presence to be viewed as a rare “Superintendent Sighting.”
“I want them to know who I am. After all, this office exists to support them,” said Lockwood.
The superintendent has also been taking on the more official tasks of the role, including meeting with potential new hires, preparing for upcoming teacher negotiations, meeting with Pinkerton Academy leadership, overseeing new technology and technology services coming into the building and looking toward the review of the school’s educator evaluation system.
Lockwood noted an overall confidence with the Chester Academy infrastructure, staff and leadership as the new school year begins.
“It will be exciting,” he said.