Garon Smail—Principal (7-12)
Garon Smail is entering his first year as principal at the Woodstock Union High School and Middle School. Prior to that he was principal of Woodstock Union High School for three years as well as associate principal for the school for four years. “My mom was a professional artist and she always taught me the power of criticism and critique. That’s how we grow, and that open communication—being able to interact and talk and hear things—is important to growth.” Garon works hard to be very accessible to students and parents and takes pride in things like not having voice mails piling up. “These things matter to me. I strive to be fast with a response.”
Garon grew up in Williston, Vermont, and attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, then spent the next 20 years living and working out West. “There are those who take positions working in high schools because they loved high school and those who couldn’t stand being in high school and return with an eye to redesign. A love of high school wasn’t what grabbed and pulled me into my path in education.” Garon worked in public policy and public lands, working with many subcontractors, and found his strengths were working with young people. He then worked in a variety of alternative education schools and programs before attending the University of Washington’s Masters in Teaching program. He taught AP social studies and says the driving thing was to educate and inform and to encourage students to be inquisitive, active people.
“That became my big vision—how can a school be structured so it empowers students?” He returned East to Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire and among other things, served on the community council, designed to create and modify school procedure as a representative body of 47 members that is student led and also includes members from the surrounding communities. He also established a student judiciary board for the school.
As principal (7-12), he provides oversight and is responsible for all programs and operations, provides educational leadership, strategic planning and implementation, supervision and evaluation of staff, and community engagement for the WUHSMS. “All roads end in my office. People want a principal to be accessible, but we can also be aware of the expertise that surrounds us. If there is a precise question, it may be better answered by someone else on the leadership team, or teachers or counselors. But my job is to focus on the strategic planning.” Garon lives with his wife and twin boys in Norwich.
University of Colorado, Boulder—B.A. Political Science/Geography; University of Washington, Seattle—MIT (Masters in Teaching) Secondary Social Studies; University of New Hampshire—CAGS School Administration
Favorite Food: I like to eat – I would be the easiest person to poison in the school because I never question the food that shows up on my desk. I just eat it.
Favorite Book: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Summer or Winter? Summer because of the longer days; there is more sunlight and I’m really passionate about mountain biking.
Favorite Thing to Do When You’re Not Working: Spend time with my family.
Heather Lawler - Associate Principal
“I am committed to leading programs at Woodstock from good to great, and to guide programs that are already great to be among the best in the nation. To provide structure and guidance for initiatives that support WUHSMS in being the school it wants to be—a place where students love to learn, where their educational needs are met, and a place where their goals are realized.”
Heather joins WUHSMS this year as the associate principal after 13 years at Bergen County Academies in northern New Jersey, where she was a member of the BCA Leadership Team as a lead teacher and program manager. There she honed her supervisory, community outreach, and educational program management skills. “People want greater communication and designing a communication plan is high on my priority list. I plan to use multiple platforms to communicate and build community partnerships.”
Raised in Western Massachusetts, the associate principal will lead the middle school program (grades 7-8) as a “school within a school” and lead it as an educational program rather than a separate entity. Areas of focus include personalized learning, Flexible Pathways and the middle school program plus 9th grade, faculty and staff, student supports, personalized learning plans for students, and education options including work-based learning, dual college enrollment opportunities, and access to career and technical education. “We want to meet the needs of every student where they are—providing extra support, work-based learning, special education, gifted and talented resources—we are dedicated to providing personalized educational opportunities for every learner.”
She believes the future of effective education is personalized education for every student and building on proficiency-based assessment. For example, a student must write a paper for an assignment. “Rather than saying, ‘You’re going to write about To Kill a Mockingbird,’ find out what students are individually interested in and encourage them to write on that topic instead. Our goal is to provide individualized learning plans and opportunities for every student to engage.”
Southern New Hampshire University—B.A. English; Montclair State University, New Jersey—Masters in Educational Leadership; New Jersey City University—Masters in Educational Technology
Favorite Food: Chocolate covered almonds
Favorite Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Summer or Winter? All four seasons. If I had to choose, I’d go with summer. But I am a skier, too.
Favorite Things to Do When You’re Not Working: Garden, hike, cycle, and visit farmer’s markets.
Jennifer Stainton—Curriculum Coordinator
“I love working at WUHSMS because the teachers and the community care so much about education. It’s something that makes me excited and proud to come to school every day, whatever my capacity is. The team that we’ve compiled—I’m really excited about our administrative team—there’s a lot of energy, and we’re excited to use the skills continue to be a growing and successful organization.”
Jennifer Stainton is no stranger to the WUHSMS community (she was named Teacher of the Year 2016-2017, among other accolades) and this year she will enter into a new role on the Leadership Team as curriculum coordinator, responsible for all curriculum, assessment and instruction for grades 7-12. “My role is to facilitate the implementation of proficiency-based grading and refine our practices to proficiency. My hope is to provide clarity and common practices around proficiency-based grading and practices to support teachers as they do that important work—to ensure equity and opportunity to all students in our school.”
Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Arlington, Virginia, Jennifer was raised by two federal government bureaucrats. Her father was a lawyer for health and human services and her mother also worked in human services. “I think they instilled in me a value for public service.” After graduating from the University of Richmond, she lived life on the Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where she worked in volcanology for the U.S. Geological Survey. “From interacting with the public in Hawaii where volcanoes are in the national park, I realized teaching was something I was enjoying, and I loved science.”
Jennifer likes to think on the big picture scale and on the smaller grain-sized scale. Using the big picture reasoning provides context for her students to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing on a smaller scale. “It makes the other stuff more meaningful and more sense, and we can implement things easier.” She worked in the D.C. area and then made her way to Vermont to The Sharon Academy, where she taught for five years before, having twins and then returning to teach at WUHSMS, where she has been for nine years.
“I’m in public education to make sure we have the best quality education we can for all students. The challenges that we face are countless therefore its meaningful work.”
University of Richmond, Virginia—B.S. Biology; George Mason University, Virginia—Masters in Secondary Science Education; University of Vermont—Doctorate in Education Leadership and Policy
Favorite Food: Fried shrimp and fish tacos with lots of fresh salsa and cilantro.
Favorite Book: Ain’t No Makin’ It by Jay MacLeod; Lord of the Flies by William Golding; 1984 by George Orwell; and the Little House on the Prairie series.
Summer or Winter? Fall because it’s beautiful. It’s fleeting and because as a career-long teacher I’ve never been able to steep myself in fall. I only get to experience it in little pockets, and it’s precious to me for that reason.
Favorite Thing to Do When You’re Not Working: For the past five years, I’ve filled it with finishing up a doctorate, so when I’m not at school I’m going to school and learning. Spending time with my two daughters and husband, running, volunteering at High Horses with my daughters, gardening.
Hannah Leland—Dean of Students
Born and raised in New Hampshire with a love for travel, Dean of Students Hannah Leland provides support for all of that student life encompasses at Woodstock Union High School and Middle School. “We have so many great opportunities for our students, it is my goal to make sure all of those opportunities are supported in every way possible.” She hopes to support team sports by taking a close look at the Athletic Department, ensuring every opportunity is available for students. The same goes for the variety of clubs at the school as well. “We have wonderful opportunities and every student should have the chance to explore those activities.”
Hannah is organized, straightforward and efficient. “I juggle a lot with my position and in order to make sure I don't drop a ball, I have to be organized. If a student issue arises, I want to be straightforward with the student, in a clear manner so they understand why the conversation is happening and why the consequence occurred. My biggest dream for the school is to ensure our students and staff feel supported. If either group is not feeling supported, I want to make sure I change that and help them in any way possible.”
Hannah lives with her husband and daughter in Newbury, Vermont and is currently working on her CAGS at Plymouth State University in Educational Leadership. After she finishes her last two classes, she hopes to continue on in the Doctoral Program.
Lyndon State College, Vermont—B.A. English; Plymouth State College, New Hampshire—M.A. English Education
Favorite Food? I honestly don't have a favorite food...If I had to pick it would be fruit (not pineapple though - I am allergic to that).
Favorite book? To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Summer or winter? Summer
Favorite Thing to Do When You’re Not Working: My first priority is my family and spending time with them. I serve on the board of Directors for the North Haverhill Fair. I also sell Thirty-One Bags as a part time job. Our family chooses to be involved in a lot and to be as involved with the community as possible - we find value in giving back to our community.
Department Chairs and Team Leaders
Chris Cate, Director of Counseling Services
Beth Hayslett, 8th Grade Team Leader
Ryan Becker, 8th Grade Team Leader
Hector Kent, 7th Grade Team Leader
Anne Lessard, 7th Grade Team Leader
Michell Fountain, English Department Chair
Melissa Fellows / Tim Brennan, Science Department Co-Chair
Matt McCormick, Social Studies Department Chair
Heather Vonada, Mathematics Department Chair
Stephen Stuntz, Special Education Services Coordinator
Keri Bristow, MAC Languages Department Chair
Katrina Jimerson / Matt Rogers, Art Department Co-Chairs