Baron takes lead at high school

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Colchester High School Principal Heather Baron helps set students up with laptops Tuesday at the high school. (Photo by Jason Starr)

Colchester High School Principal Heather Baron helps set students up with laptops Tuesday at the high school. (Photo by Jason Starr)

By Jason Starr

Heather Baron and her predecessor as Colchester High School principal, Amy Minor, are cut from the same cloth.

Both started careers in education as high school biology teachers before advancing into educational leadership. Baron now occupies the office that Minor left in the spring when she took over as superintendent. A University of Vermont graduate, Baron was promoted from her most recent role in the district of professional development coordinator and instructional coach.

Minor, then an assistant principal, hired Baron in 2003 to teach science at CHS. Baron has remained a classroom teacher even as she took on the role of coordinating continuing education for, and coaching, the district’s teachers. She has also taught courses at St. Michael’s College and worked as a curriculum consultant for other Vermont school districts.

Baron received a school administrative license last year in hopes of moving into a principalship.

“This is a really special high school,” she said. “I wanted to stay here, and I knew I wanted to be an administrator. Luckily I didn’t have to choose.”

Baron takes the reins with an intimate knowledge of her staff, having worked with them individually and in small groups to improve classroom teaching and having designed their professional development curriculum for the past three years.

“We have a really strong faculty,” she said. “They are consummate consumers of educational literature, and they work phenomenally hard to take evidence-based practices and implement them in the classroom. It’s like no other school I’ve seen, which is one of the reasons it was important for me to stay here.”

Baron’s experience helping shape the school’s culture makes the principal position a natural fit. But there are aspects of the job that will take some getting used to. She said managing the school’s budget and moving from instructional coach to a formal supervisor and teacher evaluator will be new experiences.

“Having Amy in the superintendency, having her just a phone call away, really helps,” Baron said, adding that the school’s two assistant principals, Tim Emery and Justin Brown, have a combined 15 years of experience as administrators at the school.