Village School of North Bennington head to retire

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NORTH BENNINGTON >> The head of the Village School of North Bennington has announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Tom Martin, who came out of retirement in 2006 to become the principal of the then-North Bennington Graded School, oversaw the transition to an independent school. Becoming principal at a time when the idea of that transition was just beginning to take shape, Martin worked with staff, the village's prudential committee, and state and local officials to make sure that it went as smoothly as possible. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Martin began his career as a social studies teacher and athletic coach, before becoming an elementary school principal, then principal at Schuylerville High School in New York.

Asked what drew him out of retirement, Martin said, "I retired young, and I missed kids. That was certainly a part of it. It wasn't long before I fell in love with North Bennington."

"Tom provided thoughtful leadership through the transition of the North Bennington Graded School to The Village School of North Bennington," said Meg Woolmington, chair of the school's board of trustees, "The process, which appeared seamless for students and families, actually demanded extraordinary behind-the-scenes effort as the framework of a new institution was brought into being. Tom's wisdom and expertise has been a tremendous asset in ensuring that the Village School's transition has been skillfully implemented, with a steady eye on what is best for educating children. His contribution to the educational community for North Bennington and Shaftsbury District I residents is tremendous and we are grateful to him for his vision and stewardship."

Under Martin, the school has formed partnerships with many local organizations, including Bennington College, the Vermont Arts Exchange, and the Hiland Hall Garden, each of which provide supplementary programming to the standard curriculum. Regarding the most significant change to the school during his tenure, the transition to being an independent school, Martin said that if he could go back and go through the whole process again, he wouldn't do anything differently. "I'm convinced this was the right thing to do, for this school and for this community," citing the ability of the school to "chart its own course."

The search for a successor has already begun. For Martin, announcing his decision to retire a year before it goes into effect was a matter of simple courtesy. "It gives the school time to find the best possible person they can find," he said, noting that it was a common practice in private and independent schools.

"The decision to retire from the VSNB is one of the most difficult decisions I've made and I'll miss the students and the supportive community tremendously," said Martin. Asked what he would miss most about the day-to-day operations of the school, he answered without hesitation. "The kids and the staff, without a doubt," he said, "I will miss this school."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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