By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — He came home and is loving what he does.
For Pinkerton Academy associate Dean of Students William Lonergan, it’s also a chance to make a different in the lives of the freshmen attending the Derry high school.
Lonergan is nominated as a finalist for the Assistant Principal of the Year honor through the N.H. Association of School Principals.
He was nominated by his peers and will find out if he wins in January.
Lonergan said he is humbled by the possibility of winning the award, but also said it’s a collaborative effort that makes him successful in his job.
As an associate dean, he is responsible for several of the freshman class teams and works in the school’s newest Academy Building, geared strictly to ninth-grade students.
He has worked at Pinkerton 21 years and is a 1980 graduate of the school. His two children, Bailey and Ian, are also Pinkerton graduates.
Lonergan returned to his alma mater to student teach in the English department and eventually became part of the staff.
More studies in administration took him to Florida, but he returned to Pinkerton in 2004 to continue teaching and then took on his associate dean duties.
Lonergan was one of the driving forces behind the freshman academy model of transitioning student from area middle schools into the high school setting.
He said he is proud of what the new program is accomplishing.
“But the first year was trial by error, and it was all about getting to know the team,” he said. “It was a new process, a new building, and there were some first year hiccups and bumps.”
Those bumps in the freshman road smoothed out as time went on, Lonergan said.
Now, the program is working, giving freshmen a good start at Pinkerton and helping them make the often difficult transition from middle school to high school.
“We saw some huge changes in kids’ behavior,” he said. “Our bullying statistics improved and we’re looking at increases in the number of kids passing classes.”
Lonergan said having the freshman program in place has been an experience that is personalized to each student, their strengths and interests. The model was a three- to five-year process and in the third year, things are going well.
Lonergan said he is also proud of other efforts at Pinkerton to help integrate the freshmen class, including the annual Freshman Field Day in the summer where students from all towns gather for team-building games, challenges and events.
He is humbled by his potential top honor, and gives credit to the school, the staff and administration for supporting students and their goals.
“I like what I do,” he said, “and I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in.”