The Superintendent Search

Photos courtesy of The Eagle Tribune, NHPR, and The Keene Sentinel

Photos courtesy of The Eagle Tribune, NHPR, and The Keene Sentinel

Maria Heim

The Timberlane Superintendent Search Committee has been searching for the perfect fit for superintendent. Upon the departure of former superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler, citizens of SAU55 have been wondering who will be the next superintendent to have a vision for the future of Timberlane and Hampstead school districts, respectively.  


Currently, Dr. Brian Cochrane serves as the Interim Superintendent of SAU55, comprising the Timberlane and Hampstead districts. However, because of the withdrawal Timberlane will now be on their own under SAU55 effective in the spring. On February 9th at 7 pm the committee hosted a candidate night for the three finalists:        Dr. Brian Cochrane, Mr. Christopher Kellan, and Mr. Reuben Duncan.


The moderators, School Board Representative of Plaistow Kristin Savage and Sandra Allaire, the Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning asked a wide range of topics. These included: COVID-19, intentions for the position, experience, social-emotional learning, and a vision for the future of Timberlane. The public was able to submit their questions via a form and some were selected for the candidate night. Several Timberlane High School students submitted their own questions through a poll on the Student Council Instagram (@timberlanestudentcouncil). Overall, there were 155 citizens of the district who were listening in on this candidate night. 


Before pondering the position of Superintendent of SAU106, the three candidates have backgrounds in education. Dr. Brian Cochrane serves as Interim Superintendent currently and previously was the Superintendent of the Barnstead and Litchfield School Districts. Mr. Christopher Kellan is the Assistant Superintendent of the Derry Cooperative School District. Lastly, Mr. Reuben Duncan is the current Superintendent of the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District. All candidates have had experience in the Superintendent sphere. 


The three candidates all have similar intentions on why they want to be the superintendent of Timberlane. They all discussed the unique size, students, and experiences they have had with the district. Christopher Kellan said, “I’ve been in education for 30 years and live in Atkinson for 18 years. I know the area and have this connection with the towns.” Regarding their past experiences in accordance with the position all three candidates agreed that students are the priority and the “heart” of SAU106.


On the subject of COVID-19 for the Timberlane Regional School District, all of the candidates communicated their priorities and strategies. Duncan believes that the school board should insert more formative assessments in the fall of the 2021-2022 school year. In a concurring opinion, Kellan agreed but made it clear that there also needs to be not only academic, but social-emotional mediation for students and their families. Cochrane’s approach was slightly different, presenting that they must rely on data rather than qualitative observations. 


The candidates were asked to speak of their top priorities during their first six months on the job. Cochrane voiced on hiring processes, reorganizing the COVID plan, and programs at all levels. In regards to COVID, Cochrane additionally suggested that “It’s hard to overestimate the overall loss in students (during this year), and those are the areas we need to ramp up on really quickly.” Duncan relayed that his priorities were forming relationships with many people, establishing a data team, and technology plans. In opposition, Kellan delivered that his priorities are assimilating back to in-person instruction, accessing COVID, and engaging with all of the students. 


The last topic of importance to the constituents of Timberlane Regional High School was the discussion of student voice. Kellan hopes to spend time in schools everyday along with student organizations like music, sports, and honor societies. One of his notable promises of the night is that he would, ““Meet with the Student Council and spend time with students of all ages.” Keeping the children at the center is how Duncan will foster student voices. He emphasized that the SAU must make all learners welcome. Despite being criticized for abolishing snow days, Cochrane followed with saying that students have access to media and contribute to the district in many ways.


The candidates for Superintendent surely communicated their perceptions and view of the current state of SAU55. The Timberlane Superintendent Search Committee will choose their final selection at the next board meeting or sooner. The public anxiously anticipates the announcement of the new superintendent as they will set the pace of the Timberlane Regional School District.