Citing his lengthy experience within the Derry Cooperative School District, School Board members have named former Gilbert H. Hood Middle School Principal Austin Garofalo as the interim assistant superintendent of schools.
After approving Garofalo’s nomination, School Board members then voted at their Sept. 26 meeting to name William Fox as the interim principal of Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.
The moves follow the board’s decision in August to name MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian as the interim superintendent of schools for former Superintendent of Schools Laura Nelson, who resigned for medical reasons and then retired.
Board members praised Garofalo and Fox for taking on their new roles.
“Thank you for accepting the challenge of taking on new roles, and we look forward to working with you in different ways, “School Board Vice Chair Brenda Willis said after the votes were taken.
Garofalo has served in a number of roles during his long stint in the school district, while Fox has served as assistant principal at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School before stepping into the top position at the school.
School Board Chairman Dan McKenna echoed Willis’ comments in saying board members look forward to working with both Garofalo and Fox, adding that they are happy to have each of them in the district. McKenna said he just recently spoke to Garofalo and has gotten to know Fox through their work on the Facilities Committee.
Connors-Krikorian thanked both Garofalo and Fox “for being ready and willing to step up to the challenge and continuing to be part of our leadership. It takes a lot of effort, and we always stress being a team, and I truly believe that’s what we all are; first and foremost, on the part of students.”
On medical leave for approximately six months, Nelson decided to step down for medical reasons and retire in August.
Connors-Krikorian was named Interim Superintendent at the School Board’s Aug. 22 meeting. During the meeting, McKenna thanked Nelson, who served for five years as superintendent.
“As most people know, Laura Nelson our superintendent, has been out on medical leave since March,” McKenna said, adding, “We were expecting she would return earlier this month at this time but was unable to return this month and has decided she needs to retire and take care of some health issues.”
McKenna praised Nelson for leading the district through a number of projects such as the Long-Range Planning Committee. He also credited her with starting the Facilities Committee and leading the group to the point where it is now ready for the final report. The Facilities Committee was created after the school district experienced a continued decline in enrollment over the past 10 years. Nelson helped lead the process to form the committee as board members seek solutions for the district and the community. Former Superintendent of Schools John Moody is overseeing the committee. In addition, Nelson helped lead the move of the Next Charter School to Gilbert H. Hood Middle School and a number of other projects such as the Blizzard Bags program, McKenna said.
Willis echoed McKenna’s comments.
“I’ll just echo what you said Dan and obviously wish Laura well and hope she improves and gets back on track,” Willis said.