The next academic year will be the first time since 1979 that Rob Reardon won’t be found in the halls of Essex High School (EHS).
That’s because, after 40 years of working at EHS, Reardon is retiring from education. Fresh out of graduating from the University of Vermont, he started working at the high school as a teacher, coach, and advisor. Reardon then moved to the administrative side of things and has been the EHS principal for the last 16 years.
“It’s been a great, great experience,” Reardon said. “I love the community and, obviously, value and support education. I’ve allowed teachers to take risks, test the waters, and make experiences better for kids--to not necessarily be satisfied with the status quo. I feel fortunate to have worked in this school district for the time I have and to have the support of the various boards, principals before me, and others that I’ve worked with, as well as good students and parent support, too.”
The Essex Westford School District (EWSD) has launched a national search for Reardon’s replacement with the position being listed on schoolspring.com Jan. 22. The district is conducting the search in conjunction with the New England School Development Council and is seeking the help of the public during the process.
EWSD will be facilitating focus groups at the high school on Feb. 11 for students, parents, teachers, staff, and community members to provide insight which will help the district screen candidates and develop interview questions. The student group will go from 10:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., the teachers and staff will be held between 2:45-4 p.m., and the parents and community group will go from 6-8 p.m.
People who are unable to attend during the focus group time slots can fill out a short survey found at ewsd.org.
“Mr. Reardon has provided years of service to the Essex High School community,” said EWSD superintendent Beth Cobb. “He is a student-focused educator and a dedicated principal. Mr. Reardon always has a proud story to tell about his students. His historical perspective will be missed on our leadership team.”
Reardon was mainly a teacher in the driver’s education program when he was first hired, and he had no idea it would lead to a 40-year career with varying positions at the same school.
“When you’re younger, you don’t look that far down the road, and I thought, ‘Well, this would be a good entry job.’ Whether I’d stay or not was clearly an unknown. And lo and behold, that was the journey that I took.”
Reardon commented that one of his favorite parts about his work has been the various personal interactions he’s had throughout the years.
“I think the interesting part of being a principal is working with the many stakeholders that you encounter on a regular basis,” he said. “Some are obvious, like teachers, students, other administrators in the district, and parents. And then there are some others who are not-so-obvious: business leaders, alumni, boosters--just to name a few.
“I’ve really enjoyed the run I’ve had,” he added, “and I appreciate the community support for all the years--because it is a collective effort. It’s a very, very positive community to raise kids and family--without any question.”
EWSD is planning to have the high school’s new principal have a start date of July 1.