Dover School's new principal is no stranger

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DOVER >> Dover School's next principal Matt Martyn comes at a crossroads.

The school is in the candidacy stage for becoming accredited by an organization that runs the International Baccalaureate programming.

"If you're claiming to be a world or global-minded school, you ought to be looking at the IB standards to see if your program measures up to it. It's certainly the most well-known international set of standards," Martyn said. "I think the IB curriculum gives the school an opportunity to look at its programs through the lenses of an international organization. Any opportunity you have to evaluate your program locally and internationally, it's important to take advantage of."

Then there's Act 46, the new law aimed at unifying school districts to save on costs and provide better results for students around the state as enrollment numbers continue to decline. Four committees in Dover are tasked with addressing various aspects of the law within their community.

"I think all people working in public schools in Vermont today should be aware of and be concerned about Act 46 from a lot of perspectives," said Martyn. "Dover has established and maintained a top notch program that has been honored throughout the Act 46 process. They also have the advantage of having seasoned and veteran school board members who are community anchors very well read on all the legal issues around schools and are very politically proactive."

Martyn's current role is Windham Central Supervisory Union's director of technology and professional development. He was previously recognized by University of Vermont as a Vermont Outstanding Teacher when employed as music director at Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School.

After 21 years of teaching and working within Windham Central, Martyn said he watched Dover School accomplish "some amazing things" academically, instructionally and politically. Having received a principal's endorsement after completing approximately two-and-a-half years of courses, he expects to get his license in the mail soon.

Martyn did not expect the job to open until October or September. He said usually searches do not begin until after Jan. 1.

"When I heard of this opportunity, I jumped on it," he said. "I decided to throw my hat in the ring knowing I was at the brink of getting my credentials,"

Martyn plans to continue enhancing technological integration at the school and bring his history as a teacher to supports the arts especially as it pertains to music education. He said the board will be able to get him "completely up to speed" on Act 46 and all the variables of the school to make the best decisions for the town based on "investment and learning."

The maturity, experience and wisdom of the board on legal issues were the driving force behind one of his reasons for wanting to come to Dover.

"It made it easy to apply for the position," he said.

Martyn collaborated with 27 principals and seven principals during his time at Windham Central. His knowledge of the supervisory union, he believes, had something to do with making him the top choice.

But there was also his experience at the state level: he has assisted with developing initiatives around educational quality standards.

"I'm hoping those were some things that came through to the hiring committees, particularly being a new principal," said Martyn, who begins July 1. "Having a six-month window here really gives me not only a great opportunity to shadow Bill (Anton, current principal) but also for us to think about getting a replacement for me at the central office and how to move that program forward. There's lots of time. We should be able to come up with a solution that works with the budget."

The challenge of being a new leader was accepted by Martyn. Following the "esteemed (Vermont) Principal of the Year," an award Anton received from the National Association of Elementary School Principals last year, Martyn said he could not imagine stepping into a better situation.

"Bill's (Anton) such a well-loved administrator there. There will be some transitional anxiety. I'm sure anyone coming in would face that," said Martyn. "With the professional nature of the staff, the organization of the support staff, the integration and the investment of the board in the daily operations, it's just such a great community organization."

Anton said he could not be more confident in Martyn's ability. A seven-month transition period will give the two plenty of time to get together.

"He is a talented collaborator and I don't foresee any situation that he cannot navigate," said Anton, principal for the last six years and the next superintendent at Windham Central. "Matt (Martyn) and I are preparing to meet on a regular basis. He will be observing instruction. He will attend board meetings. He will engage with students and colleagues. He is planning to collaborate with us in professional development, especially in our IB work."

Anton has no doubts Martyn will be a "great leader."

"I am confident Matt (Martyn) will uncover many areas of growth that Dover can attend to," Anton said. "A new, curious perspective will only elevate the aspirations and opportunities for Dover."

Windham Central Superintendent Steven John, who has seen Martyn act in various capacities, said Martyn's work has always been exemplary.

"It just sets a standard for educational excellence that's to be commended," John added.

John's contract ends on June 30 after 46 years in the field. Very few of those years were spent in schools outside of Southern Vermont and he has taught at every grade level except kindergarten.

Attempting to be "pretty circumspect" about staying in the world of education, John acknowledges the possibility of involvement on a volunteer basis. His plans are to sing with more groups and travel more.

"It's hard to leave. It's very exciting work. There's a lot of new challenges every day. I'll miss the problem solving," said John. "I want to get connected with some of my international friends particularly as well as across the country and enjoy their company while I'm in good health."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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