New principal takes the helm at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children

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WESTMINSTER — The Kurn Hattin Homes for Children recently welcomed new school principal Sergio Simunovic.

Simunovic has previously served as Academic Dean at the Greenwood School in Putney as well as teaching math and science at the school, and working in Residential Life.

"I've lived in the area for about 12 years, so southern Vermont is certainly home and a wonderful place to be," said Simunovic. "In a lot of ways, the all-encompassing residential school setting that exists here at Kurn Hattin feels really natural to me and is something I was looking forward to."

Though Simunovic has not worked as a school principal in the past, his varied experience is what impressed Steve Harrison, the executive director of Kurn Hattin.

"Sergio is a wonderful guy. He's a very energetic young man who has good experience in a variety of capacities," said Harrison. "One of the really attractive things about Sergio is not only did he have the academic background that we really wanted, but he also knew what it meant to be in the trenches of having to deal with children and junior boarding programs to a significant degree in Residential Life, which lends a lot of credibility to a principal."

Kurn Hattin was an ideal fit for Simunovic, who is currently working towards his Doctorate in Educational and Leadership Policy through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

"The first thing that hit me when I walked in the door was the community," said Simunovic. "I think the strength of the community at Kurn Hattin, the dedication of the staff, and how people here take care of each other is incredible."

In the end, however, it was the students that solidified Simunovic's decision to join the Kurn Hattin community.

"Above all is the students themselves," said Simunovic. "They are amazing and the things they bring each day, the resiliency that they show, is really what it's all about."

Simunovic views his role as principal primarily as a member of the Kurn Hattin community, and hopes to spend his first few months on the job getting acquainted with that community.

"My top priority right now is getting to know Kurn Hattin — all of the nooks and crannies and what makes this place tick so that we can utilize all of the amazing talents that are here," said Simunovic. "First and foremost is making sure that I know how everything works around here so that I can help move forward what I can."

The Kurn Hattin Homes for Children was established in 1894 and works year-round to ensure that its students, boys and girls from across the Northeast that come from disadvantaged backgrounds or adverse family circumstances, get the support they need to build a better future.

"It's not just academic skills, though certainly as principal I stand behind that, but certainly the social and emotional skills to succeed in whatever it is they want to do are just as important," said Simunovic.

"Were thrilled to have him, he's got a young family that he's interested in bringing here to campus and joining in the life here as much as they can, which is fun," said Harrison. "He fits right in, and he hit the ground running."

Cherise Madigan can be contacted at madigancherise@gmail.com.


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