BRISTOL — Middlebury Union Middle School Principal Patrick Reen has been chosen to be the next Addison Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent. Reen will begin as Superintendent July 1.
Residents in the five towns that comprise the ANeSU, and members of the school community, met with Reen Monday afternoon, and the ANeSU board interviewed the 37-year-old Bristol resident on Monday evening.
After a meeting of more than two hours, “the board agreed unanimously to offer him the position,” board Chair Dawn Griswold wrote in an email to the Independent.
Griswold and board Vice Chair Brad Bull reached an agreement in principle with Reen on an employment contract. Details will be released after the contract is finalized, Griswold said.
“The Board wishes to express its gratitude to the students, staff, and community members for their work on the Superintendent Search Committee,” Griswold’s statement concluded. “They were engaged and committed to the search process, and their work provided an invaluable contribution to our district.”
“I am truly excited to be rejoining the exceptional, innovative team of educators in Addison Northeast Supervisory Union,” Reen told the Independent. “I couldn't be happier with the thought of being a part of the great work happening in the supervisory union I call home.”
Reen spent Monday visiting all of the ANeSU schools and talking with students, staff, teachers, administrators and community members before interviewing with the ANeSU board that night.
At a lively forum for the community, hosted at Mount Abraham Union High School, Reen spoke easily with teachers and community members, answering questions about his background, working style, his vision for the supervisory union — even bringing humor into complicated issues of school governance policy and district unification under Act 46.
Reen introduced himself by saying that he came to education because of his desire to help others. Having started as a classroom teacher, he transitioned to school leadership so that he could have even more of an impact on more kids.
At the forum, Reen demonstrated his self-professed collaborative working style, openness and willingness to engage. When asked about his short- and long-term goals for the district, Reen addressed both practical matters — such as getting ANeSU schools better equipped with technology — and what many might see as the heart and soul of leadership, building trust after a series of fractures that ended up with federal mediation and the severing of ties with a standing superintendent.
“A short-term goal for me is trust building,” he said. “I think we’ve lost a lot of trust over the last several years in Addison Northeast, just with all the turmoil that we’ve been through. I don’t see how we can come together and be on the same page about what we want for kids if we don’t trust the people that we’re having these conversations with. So an immediate first thing is just building that trust because from that we can make a lot of other things happen.”
Asked what actions he might take to build trust, Reen emphasized demonstrating trustworthiness by following through on actions and being present in the classrooms.
Reen said it’s important for superintendents to be present in schools; for instance, “people seeing me and having the chance to interact and demonstrating interest in what’s happening between teachers and students because that’s where the magic happens.
“Everything else we do is so that interaction between teachers and students is the best it can be,” he continued. “Results for kids come from interactions between teachers and students. The research is clear that has the most significant impact on student learning. So everything else is just to support that work that’s happening.”
Reen emphasized the importance of creating a long-term vision to achieve excellence, but at the same time stressed the importance of addressing children’s needs right now.
“We need to set pretty lofty goals,” he said. “Mediocrity is not our goal. Excellence is our goal, and we need to set a long-term plan for how we’re going to reach that level of excellence ... (But) we need to really move with some real intentionality in creating that vision so that we can get to work on it. The kids who are sitting in classrooms right now can’t wait for us to make up our minds. We need to figure out what we want for them and begin working toward that.”
Reen also said that given the cost of education, it’s important to make sure that money is being spent to have the maximum impact on students.
Reen has been active in the community as a girls’ sports coach, and has two daughters at Bristol Elementary School. He enjoys hunting, fishing and being outdoors.
The Morrisville native came to Bristol in 2002 as a sixth-grade teacher at Bristol Elementary, after a year teaching third grade at Castleton Elementary School. Reen taught at BES for six years until 2008, when he became assistant principal at MUMS, where he became principal in March 2012. (Officials in the Addison Central Supervisory Union are already looking for a new principal for MUMS, see story here.)
Reen earned his B.A. in Elementary and Special Education from Castleton State College in 2001 and his master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Vermont in 2008.
“I had a great day March 14 when I toured all of the schools, met with students, teachers, administrators, community members and board members,” Reen said. “I feel like Addison Northeast Supervisory Union is poised to do incredible things to improve outcomes for students, and I look forward to supporting this work for years to come.”
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at firstname.lastname@example.org.