After 17 years as superintendent, Dean Cascadden prepares to bid farewell

  • Bow Superintendent Dean Cascadden takes a walk through the hallways of Bow High School and runs into sophomore Owen Webber on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTERMonitor staff

  • Bow Superintendent Dean Cascadden meets with Ben Forbe™s class at Bow High on May 16. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • BowSuperintendent Dean Cascadden takes a walk through the hallways and finds the mission statement on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/31/2023 4:30:45 PM

Every time Dean Cascadden walks through the hallways of Bow High School, he defies the stereotype of a detached administrative figure.

It’s not uncommon to see the superintendent for the Bow and Dunbarton school districts engage in conversations with students, teachers and staff, taking the time to learn their names, listen to their stories and celebrate their achievements.

On a Tuesday morning, during one of his regular strolls along the school corridors, Cascadden crossed paths with Owen Webber, a sophomore making his way to his next class. Rather than engaging in a brief exchange of pleasantries, Cascadden extended his fist for a friendly bump and proceeded to discuss Webber’s love for hockey, showcasing Cascadden’s genuine rapport with the students.

“I’ve just always loved kids and talking to them,” said Cascadden as he prepared to step into retirement after working in the school district for 16 years. “They’re not jaded yet, there’s still a lot of possibility in them.”

Cascadden embarked on his college journey with a focus on biology, initially considering a path toward becoming a medical doctor. However, it didn’t take long for him to recognize that his true passion lay elsewhere, as a couple of education courses opened his eyes to the fact that biology wasn’t the right fit for him.

Having started his career as a teacher in a humble school in a church basement, Cascadden has dedicated close to thirty years of his life to the field of education.

After earning a doctoral degree in educational leadership, he went on to become a college professor and principal at a public school before assuming the superintendent position in Bow in 2007. He coached football at Hanover High School too.

“I’ve always liked to explain things to people,” said Cascadden about his interest in education. “I really like to take something complex and try to break it down and be able to explain it to people in a fairly simple way yet not glossing over things”

Apart from his administrative responsibilities, Cascadden cherishes the opportunity to engage socially. As a superintendent, each day brings a unique set of tasks, but he deliberately carves out time to connect with both the staff and students. This is unmistakable as the corridors come alive with affectionate calls like “Bestie,” “Dr. C,” and “Dean” whenever Cascadden emerges from his office.

Since assuming the position of superintendent, Cascadden’s tenure has been marked by numerous significant events within the school district, from the inclusion of Dunbarton into the district to the recent discussions surrounding the ban on certain books.

When Cascadden first became part of the Bow School District, he said there was friction between the town and the school over money and taxes.

With Duane Ford, the business administrator who Cascadden calls “the best in the state,” they were able to make fiscally smart decisions to cut down the cost per pupil without compromising on the quality of education.

Cascadden said throughout his time at the school district, he has constantly tried to unite people and make sure that everyone feels included.

“I believe the public school is our last place of society where we ask everyone to come together and treat each other as siblings,” Cascadden said, explaining how public schools serve as the place where people from diverse backgrounds, regardless of wealth or political inclinations, can come together. “We have to learn to exist with each other and no one gets to decide what is for everybody.”

A true sailing enthusiast, his office is filled with miniature sailboats meticulously arranged on the shelves, while framed pictures of sailboats add a touch of nautical charm to the walls.

He often reflects on a valuable sailing lesson that has guided him through life and career: “To get to where you want, sometimes you have to go away from where you want to go,”

Acknowledging that being a superintendent is a high-stress job, where Cascadden doesn’t get much time for sleep – especially during winter snowstorms – he said he likes to manage his stress by either sailing, skiing, playing golf or even playing his guitar.

“He is supportive, hears about students and teachers and he is fun to fish with,” said Ben Forbes, head coach of Boys Varsity Bass Fishing as Cascadden walked into a fishing and watersports safety class where students were making lures.

While Cascadden prepares for retirement at the close of this school year, he remains committed to staying connected to the field of education while cherishing quality time with his family.

Marcy Kelley who is currently the director of student services in the school district will replace Cascadden as the superintendent in July.

Reflecting on the unwavering support he received, Cascadden teary-eyed said, “It’s a really caring wonderful place to be and I’m going to miss the people here who really give themselves for education.”

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan covers environmental and energy stories in Bow, Hopkinton, Dunbarton and Warner for the Concord Monitor. In 2022, she graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in journalism, specializing in investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is always looking for new ways to incorporate data and visual elements into her stories. Her work has appeared in Energy News Network, Prism Reports and Crain's Chicago Business.

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