MEMS co-principals announce July 1 retirement

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MANCHESTER — Manchester Elementary and Middle School co-principals Martin and Irene Nadler will be retiring on July 1 of this year, rather than remaining into 2019 as anticipated.

In a letter sent to the school community on Wednesday, the Nadlers announced that "while it was our plan and intention to honor that commitment health issues will prevent us from fulfilling that promise."

According to Martin Nadler, both co-principals will require surgery in the near future. Rather than risking a prolonged absence in the 2018/2019 academic year, the couple felt it wise to begin the search process sooner.

"We didn't want to take the chance that either, or both, of us are going to be out for an extended period of time, and leave the district to scramble," he explained. "It made sense to leave at the end of this year, and ensure that the selection process goes smoothly."

As stated in the letter, the Bennington and Rutland Supervisory Union (BRSU) is "committed to continuing with a co-principal model, and will be advertising for new administrators as early as next week." According to BRSU Superintendent Jackie Wilson, the co-principal model has proved to be a good fit for MEMS.

"We moved back to that model in order to better meet the diversity that exists in a school with students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade," she said, adding that the school had previously utilized the co-principal model before moving to a more traditional structure approximately 10 years ago. "I think it's a lot to ask for one person to provide instructional leadership to ten grade levels."

Though education budgets are anticipated to be strained across the state in the coming academic year, Wilson says that the co-principal model doesn't require much in the way of additional costs.

"The cost is very similar to a principal and assistant principal model," Wilson said. "Any school with over 300 students typically has an assistant principal; I don't think there was much of a change in cost at all when we moved to this system two years ago."

The posting for the co-principal position will close in mid-January, says Nadler, at which point a pool of candidates will be screened by Wilson alongside other BRSU staff. Once the selection has been narrowed, a series of committees "representing various constituencies in the community" will conduct interviews according to Wilson.

"We'd like to have someone in place by February, but that person would not start until July 1 of 2018," she added.

Though their retirement is imminent, Nadler says he doesn't plan to "check out" before his role as co-principal ends on June 30. This isn't a new process for the couple, he says: this will be his sixth retirement, and Irene's fifth. Before that, both had enjoyed a long teaching career in their native Long Island.

"We certainly hope that the people they select are people that will continue what we started," he said. "We have, in two years, laid a firm foundation for what the school wants to do."

"We've been working very closely on a literacy model in the primary grades," added Irene. "I'm hoping that it's someone first and foremost who cares deeply about children, and is committed to making this be the best place that it can be."

When asked what she'll miss most about her role at MEMS, Irene responds without hesitation.

"The kids," she said. "They really bring joy to my heart. If you can help a child to just learn a skill or to realize the importance of reading, that is just wonderful to me."

Beyond their students, both Irene and Martin cite the school's staff as unparalleled.

"I never got the sense the they were working for me; I'm working with them," said Martin. "I'll miss the fullness of the day, and the intellectual stimulation."

"The teachers are such a dedicated and caring group of people, and they really put kids first here," added Irene. "The parents too; they care so deeply about MEMS and their children's education. Many of them go out of their way to try to foster that and support our community as a whole here at MEMS."

According to Wilson, the couple has left the school with a strong foundation to continue building upon as the search for new co-principals commences.

"Marty and Irene really stepped in a helped this school when we really needed it; we're very appreciative of their leadership over the past few years," she said. "They provided us with stability, which has served us well and left us in a good place for the long term."



Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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