To the editor: I am passing along to you for publication as you see fit, my letter of recommendation for outgoing Windham Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Chris Pratt. My remarks are genuine. However, I will add, I won't be drafting any sort of similar letter for outgoing assistant superintendent Lynn Carey.
To whom it may concern:
My Board service goes back to the late 1980s. During that time I've worked with eight superintendents of school, and after three years of working closely with Chris Pratt, I still think he's the best one I've served with.
During final interviews it came across very clearly that Chris had direct experience in essentially all the roles that a school leader needs to have expertise with in order to be an effective school leader. But more to the point, bluntly, when we hired him I really thought he was an education visionary, and after all this time I still think he's an education visionary. To put it as simply as possible, he was, in my judgment, the right guy at the right time.
I am quite sure you have your own stories of just how difficult the COVID pandemic has been for your schools. I can assure you that the schools in Windham Northeast were, and are, no different. But what may have been different for us, is that we had a superintendent of schools who did everything in his power to meet the challenge of keeping the schools running in the hybrid model when we were able to, and as effectively as possible when we had only a matter of days to make the pivot to full remote learning.
This has been deeply exhausting work, and we are now reaping the whirlwinds from it.
Eventually the crazy hours expended to get ready to address learning loss, staffing shortages and the unprecedented largesse that the Esser funds represented caught up with us, only Chris bore the brunt of it. On several occasions over the summer I asked him to step away from it at least for a long weekend, but his response to me was that it could wait until he got the schools open, and here we are.
I think Chris Pratt would be a tremendous asset to your school district. His high regard and empathy for kids and staff are without parallel. In fact if I were to attribute one failing to him it would simply be his ability to stay on top of all of the operational matters flung his way. Looking back over his tenure, I think the job was just too big for one person, and if we'd adequately staffed him with a couple of operationally qualified persons who really had his back, you wouldn't be looking at this opportunity now.
Please give Chris serious consideration, because wherever he goes next, that school or school district will be hiring a consummate professional.
David M. Clark
Board member, Bellows Falls Union High School (for Westminster)
Board member, River Valley Tech Center (for BFUHS)
Chair, Windham N.E. Supervisory Union