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Penacook resident chosen as elementary school’s new principal

Penacook resident Chris Foley is looking forward to building relationships with staff, parents and the community when he takes over as principal of Penacook Elementary School on July 1.

“I hope to meet with many people this summer to share with me what they’re most proud of; It’s my goal to get involved, be visible,” said Foley, who the board officially hired Monday night to replace retiring Principal Linda McAllister.

Foley, 34, has been serving as principal of William Allen Elementary School in Rochester since 2010. Before that, he was an assistant principal at Rochester Middle School and taught sixth grade at Rundlett Middle School. He’s a graduate of Concord High School and has a bachelor’s degree in childhood studies and master’s of education in educational leadership from Plymouth State University. Beyond teaching, Foley has coached several successful youth baseball teams in Concord.

During his time as principal at William Allen, Foley said he’s worked to foster a positive culture through implementing a program called positive behavior intervention and supports, which encourages students in a positive way. Under his leadership, the school also purchased iPads and upgraded the wireless system, allowing teachers to use digital tools in the classroom. Incorporating technology into the classroom is an important part of education today, he said.

“Nothing replaces good teaching on a day-in and day-out basis, but making school as much like the real world and supporting innovative ideas, to me, is crucial to helping our students succeed in the world they live in,” he said.

As Penacook elementary’s new principal, he plans on diving into the International Baccalaureate program. Merrimack Valley’s elementary schools were the first in the state to receive IB certification, so Foley acknowledges he still has some learning to do. But he’s eager to embrace the program, which he says fosters higher-level thinking skills that are key to student success.

The Merrimack Valley search committee was very impressed with the feedback they got from the Rochester school community on a site visit, said school board Chairman Tom Godfrey and Superintendent Mike Martin. Parents, teachers and supervisors all had positive things to say and touted Foley as a strong candidate. During the interview process, his credentials were evident.

“His answers to questions were thoughtful and you sense he had a vision on how teaching and learning and how schools are supposed to run,” Martin said.

Living in the same community as the school will also allow Foley to connect more with parents and staff members outside of the school day. Although residency in the village wasn’t a requirement, hiring someone who is already familiar with the community is an added bonus.

“He’s a fantastic candidate, we’re really excited to be getting him,” Godfrey said. “He’s a proven educator, and he’s really skilled at connecting with kids.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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