MONTPELIER — The Montpelier-Roxbury Public Schools Board will appoint a new principal for Montpelier High School at a special meeting Tuesday at noon.
The School Board is expected to appoint Renee DeVore, who has been the principal at Deer Path Middle School West in Lake Forest, Illinois, since 2012, and has worked as a principal, assistant principal and teacher in three schools in California. If appointed, she would replace Mike McRaith, the MHS principal for the past four years, who accepted a new position in January as the assistant executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association. DeVore would assume the duties of the position July 1.
After a regional and nationwide search, DeVore was one of several candidates selected by the MHS Principal Search Committee, led by Superintendent Libby Bonesteel. The 14-member committee included Bonesteel, a School Board member, two parents, two students, two high school teachers, an instructional assistant, two administrators and three staff members.
The committee received 12 applications, interviewed five applicants and selected two finalists: DeVore and Gretchen Muller, a ninth-grade science teacher and coordinator of the YES program at Burlington High School.
Born in Vancouver, Washington, DeVore, 45, graduated with a bachelor of science in English education from Southern New Hampshire University in 1995 and received a master of art education from San Diego State University in 2007. DeVore is unmarried and has no children.
Bonesteel's recommendation of DeVore followed a March 18 site visit by the two finalists to the school for two meetings with the school community.
In an email on Monday, DeVore said she was attracted to the position because of the “amazing work” staff, students and the community have put into the school.
“The staff at MHS care deeply about their students,” DeVore wrote. “This is evident in the work they are doing around proficiency-based learning, flexible pathways to graduation, personalized learning plans and their quest to delve deeply into topics such as equality and equity.”
DeVore said her research into MHS "came to life” during the site visit.
“The staff, parents, students and administration all seemed to be on the same page with regard to making forward progress academically,” DeVore said. “However, it was equally important to all groups that everyone felt safe at school.
“Additionally, I loved getting the opportunity to sit down with so many people during my visit; it showed me how committed the school community is to making sure they found the right fit to lead MHS for future years. I am ecstatic about this opportunity and can't wait to dive into Vermont and MHS.”
Bonesteel said she consulted with faculty, students and parents about what they valued in a principal.
“Certain themes emerged around community-based learning, around student voice, around equity in all three groups, so the interview team took those values and crafted our interview questions around the values that the community chose to give me,” she said.
Bonesteel said DeVore was knowledgeable about and could relate to the school community's values.
“The majority of the interview committee certainly saw that Renee brought qualities in a principal that they needed on day one,” Bonesteel said.
Bonesteel also noted DeVore’s support for last year’s student-led Racial Justice Alliance effort to address racism in the school system, leading to the raising of the Black Lives Matter flag in February 2018, making MHS the first public school in the nation to do so.
“I think (DeVore) was amazingly humbled by becoming a part of that culture and climate and effort,” Bonesteel said. "She will jump right on that ship with us.”
School Board Chairman Jim Murphy echoed Bonesteel’s impressions of DeVore.
“She is clearly very competent, has a lot of experience in a variety of schools, really achieving educational excellence, and seems very excited about coming to a community that has our values,” Murphy said.
Murphy said school commissioners supported Bonesteel’s recommendation of DeVore, adding he thought Tuesday’s meeting to appoint DeVore would “take about five minutes” with most board members calling in on a conference call to cast their vote.