, Derry, New Hampshire

February 21, 2013

Pinkerton seeks public's help for new leader

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Pinkerton Academy wants to know what people would like to see in a new leader once Mary Anderson retires as headmaster in 2014.

Anderson announced last June she would step down at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. She was required by her contract to give two years notice to trustees. Now, the work begins to find someone new.

The Pinkerton Board of Trustees and the school’s Headmaster Search Advisory Committee are asking not only school officials from the sending towns to give input, but also community members, students and teachers to help in the search for Anderson’s replacement.

The search group includes superintendents and residents of Pinkerton’s contracted towns of Derry, Hampstead, Chester and Auburn, along with faculty, staff, students and administration members.

A public forum held at the Pinkerton gave the search committee some valuable information from many different parts of the school community and community at large.

Pinkerton has only had three official headmasters, Ivah Hackler, Bradford Ek and Anderson. Most had long careers.

Trustee and search committee member William Nevious said everyone’s contribution was welcome as part of the process.

“We have not had a lot of experience in a hunt for a headmaster,” Nevious said. “And everyone we interview will have a unique personality.”

Those personalities will have to be just the right fit for Pinkerton, Nevious said. He has participated on many educational search committees nationwide to fill academic roles.

Students and staff are also giving their views on what they would like to see in a new leader at Pinkerton. Students were polled during lunches about important qualities they feel a headmaster should have. Staff members also said what Pinkerton needs to continue successfully into the future.

“It’s a community and we want this to work for everyone,” Nevious said.

Some staff members said being approachable was a key quality. Others said a new leader should be a parent to understand the role of education and what students are facing today.

Pinkerton Alumni Association member George Tsetsilas said a new headmaster should have leadership skills to be able to run a big business — and Pinkerton, he said, is like a business.

Teachers John Breda and Lanie Buskey are part of the search committee. They said a headmaster has to communicate well to keep the staff morale up and help foster passion for what they do.

“They should not only have an office in the ‘main’ house, but maybe another office closer to campus, with an open door policy,” Buskey said. “This would help motivate and inspire us to be better teachers.”

Chester resident Lorna Hazelton said a new leader should appreciate the school’s long history. Her children graduated from Pinkerton with a strong sense of family and tradition, she said.

“It’s important that Pinkerton doesn’t lose sight of that down the road,” she said. “You get so focused on the educational aspects, but if you are going to have control and impact over 3,200 students, one way is to let them know the history. If you lose that, you lose it everywhere.”

Nevious said the group will take its time and do it right. Both internal and external candidates will be considered for the job.

“We are in the beginning stages,” he said. “We will not rush through this process.”