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New Hanover School Principal Looks Forward to New Challenges

Feb 17, 2017 01:15PM ● Published by Linda Ditch

Recently, the Hanover School Board announced the choice of Pomfret’s Prosper Valley School Principal Lisa Sjostrom to take over as head of the Bernice A. Ray School. Via email, Lisa shared some of her thoughts about the upcoming change.

What attracted you to the position at the Bernice A. Ray School?

The Ray School is known far and wide as one of the highest-achieving elementary schools in the state. And, equally important to me, Ray has high aspirations, led by a talented, hard-working faculty and a supportive, involved, and rightfully demanding parent/family community. As someone who is creative by nature—I continually reflect on ways to do better by children, and by the teachers who serve them—I’m thrilled to join a dynamic community, one that doesn’t rest on its laurels. I’m joining a vibrant school in a vibrant college town with countless opportunities to create even richer enduring experiences for our children.

How would you describe your administrative style?

My leadership style is flexible, depending on what’s needed in any given situation. In a crisis, for instance, I’m directive. At the start of a new endeavor, I aim to be visionary and keep our ultimate, most far-reaching goals in sight. In general, I operate as democratically as possible, cultivating ownership and leadership by all. I say at the start of every year and in interactions with staff, “I’m going to rely on your best thinking to inform my own.” I constantly solicit faculty, parent, and student input and insights. . . . I trust in the good, creative and critical thinking of all of us.

Have you formulated any goals yet that you hope to accomplish at the school?

It’s too soon to formulate concrete goals. I first need to get on the ground and listen deeply to all constituents in the Ray community, talk with teachers and teacher teams about their aspirations, hear parents’ and students’ dreams and visions for Ray, take a look at performance data and see where we might do even better by our kids, and get to know everyone’s unique strengths and passions—this is what we will build upon.

I’m being entrusted with the authority to help every person at Ray work well and joyously together and perform at the top of his or her game—children and adults both. My enduring, overarching goal is to use that authority well.

What will you miss about Prosper Valley? 

I can’t begin to list all that I’ll miss about the Prosper Valley School. I’ve had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open a brand-new school with a team of outstanding and, dare I say, wildly courageous teachers. . . . I will miss the bright-eyed, exceptionally kind and enthusiastic students, our intelligent and supportive board, our close-knit faculty, and the nimbleness with which a small school can turn on a dime to pilot a new initiative or make quick adjustments as needed.

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