New principal hired for MAUHS

Stephen Nixon will take up the position July 1, on a two year-contract.

BENNINGTON — The coming school year will see a new principal at Mount Anthony Union High School — Stephen Nixon.

The Mount Anthony Union School District Board of Directors approved the appointment Wednesday.

Nixon, formerly principal of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, will take up the position July 1, on a two year-contract.

He was the preferred candidate of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Jim Culkeen. The board approved the appointment at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday.

"We're pleased, and we look forward to working with him," said Tim Holbrook, chairman of the MAU school board.

He said the 11-member board unanimously voted in favor of the appointment.

Eighteen applications were received. A little less than half were from candidates living or working in Vermont, said Nick Gault, SVSU acting director of human resources.

Two people also applied from overseas, he said.

Nixon has a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University Sarasota in Sarasota, Fla., and undergraduate and graduate degrees from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.

He was principal of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts from August 2008 to June 2014. He cited a desire from his family to take advantage of opportunities off-island, the Banner previously reported.

"I'm extremely excited to be going to Bennington," Nixon said when reached by The Banner Thursday. "It's great town."

Nixon said he had started to miss education after doing things like historical research and some writing.

"There was a lot of longing there," he said.

Then he saw the posting seeking a principal at Mount Anthony Union High School. He visited the school and found friendly, open and welcoming people and dedicated employees.

"It became more and more exciting as I went through the process," he said. "And I really can't wait to get started."

He said he's been going to Vermont his whole life, and is familiar with Bennington.

There's similarity between Nixon's previous school and Mount Anthony Union High School, said Culkeen.

"At first you would say, [Martha's Vineyard] — what's the comparison to Bennington?" Culkeen said.

But the students are similar demographically in terms of things like free and reduced lunch rates, he said.

One hundred percent of students in the SVSU receive free lunch through a federal program due to the area's high poverty levels.

At Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, Nixon said, there were many students whose families struggled with the cost of living.

Nixon succeeds Glenda Cresto, resigned her position as principal of Mount Anthony Union High School just prior to the beginning of the current school year. Since her resignation, the position has been filled on an interim basis by Laura Boudreau.

Boudreau is also Director of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment for SVSU.

Cresto was hired prior to the 2015-2016 school year to replace retiring Principal Sue Maguire.

In August 2017, Cresto agreed to step down as the principal of Mount Anthony Union High School, effective immediately.

Cresto had previously announced that she would be leaving as principal in June 2018.

A principal search committee, appointed by the MAU board, had presented two finalists to Culkeen: Nixon and Brett Blanchard.

The administrative regulations of the SVSU's policy that govern the hiring of administrators require the committee to recommend at least two candidates to the superintendent, who then chooses one to recommend to the school board.

Blanchard had over 10 years of experience as the principal of Fair Haven Union High School in Fair Haven when he resigned in December 2017.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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