Armand Dupont middle school sizes up potential principals

  • Principal candidate Christopher Ennis talks with Keith Klawes in a classroom at the Armand R. Dupont School in Allenstown on Monday, June 5, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Principal candidate Shannon Kruger talks with teachers and staff in the Armand R. Dupont School library in Allenstown on Monday, June 5, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Monday, June 05, 2017

The Armand R. Dupont middle school in Allenstown will have a new principal next year.

School board members, parents, teachers and community leaders met with Shannon Kruger and Christopher Ennis, the top two candidates vying for the post, for a community forum at the school Monday afternoon to pepper the applicants with questions about everything from emergency management to math interventions.

The school board met afterward to interview the candidates one-on-one and settle on a final pick. School board Chairwoman Kris Raymond said before the board’s meeting that the chosen candidate wouldn’t be announced until after he or she had accepted the position.

But parents had a chance to participate in the proces as well.

“Why here? Why now?” Keith Klawes, an ARD parent, asked Ennis in one of the middle school’s classrooms during the forum part of the afternoon.

Ennis, who is currently the adult education director at the Laconia School District, answered that his position was going to be eliminated next year because of budget cuts.

“And honestly? I miss the kids,” he said. “I like the middle-schoolers. They’re a quirky, fun bunch.”

Upstairs in the library, Kruger took another batch of questions. Klawes, again, stepped up with a query.

“It’s no secret this school district is behind in math,” he said. “How do you get that so that it’s better than the state average?”

Kruger answered that it was important not to look at “test scores in isolation of one building or one grade” but instead to follow a student’s progress over time when designing interventions.

In her application, Kruger emphasized her work with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports – PBIS – and said she had started a data team in Winnisquam, established an after-school program, and created new programming for students who were falling behind or skipping ahead.

Ennis also pointed to his work with PBIS, a school climate improvement program, and said he’d also started a one-to-one computing program at the middle school.

Both candidates were asked how long they planned to stay if offered the job, a key concern in a district plagued – like many in New England – with high administrative turnover. Both pointed to their long tenures within their current districts as evidence they were in for the long haul.

Mark Dangora, Armand Dupont’s current principal, has held the position for three years, but was an assistant principal in the district before.

Ennis has been at the Laconia school district for 21 years, where he’s been a middle school assistant principal and principal. Before that, he’d held jobs as a teacher’s aide in Belmont and a child care worker at the Pine Haven Boys Center in Allenstown.

Kruger has been at the Winnisquam Regional school district in Tilton for 14 years. She’s currently the district’s director of academics and assessment for high school, and before that she served there as an assistant principal, behavior specialist and counselor.

Ennis has a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations from the University of Maine and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Plymouth State University.

Kruger has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Saint Michael’s College, a master’s of education in counseling and consultation from Keene State College, and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Plymouth State University. She also trained as an oral interpreter for the deaf at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Mass.

A salary hasn’t been set for the job. SAU 53 co-superintendent Gail Paludi said the district had budgeted $89,000 but that the final number was negotiable.

Between 15 and 20 people applied for the job, school board member Tom Irzyk said.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)