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May 16. 2014 12:53AM

Pinkerton administrator to head Manchester school

MANCHESTER — A 37-year-old administrator at Pinkerton Academy has been selected to be the new principal at Manchester Central, the city’s largest and oldest high school.

The Board of School Committee on Monday approved the hiring of John Vaccarezza for the top job at the school. Vaccarezza is currently an associate dean of students at Pinkerton Academy. He will begin the job July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Superintendent Debra Livingston selected Vaccarezza over the other finalist for the job, Cheri Towle, the principal of a small high school in Maine.

In all, 33 people had applied for the position, with candidates being reviewed by a 12-member panel made up of students, teachers, parents and community members.

Vaccarezza will be paid $106,793 a year, the same as Christopher Motika, who was hired to be the principal at Manchester High School West last year.

Vaccarezza will take over from John Rist, who was tapped to serve as the interim principal following the abrupt retirement of Ronald Mailhot in February.

Livingston acknowledged Rist in a statement announcing the selection of Vaccarezza. “Mr. Rist has done a superb job in providing a sturdy bridge to the next leader’s tenure. I’m confident that the vibrant learning community at Central will embrace Mr. Vaccarezza’s arrival,” she said.

Pinkerton Academy, Vaccarezza’s current employer, has been central to the dispute with Hooksett, which sends a significant number of its high school students to Central. Upset over crowding and other issues in Manchester, the town’s school board pushed to have Pinkerton Academy become its primary high school. The plan was rejected by voters, but both schools are still vying for the town’s students.

The school board approved the hiring of Vaccarezza in a closed-door session Monday. Board members contacted Thursday said they felt he was a good pick.

“I have not met him, but I’ve heard very good things about him,” Ward 1 school board member Sarah Ambrogi said. “I also feel the process the superintendent outlined, the many steps taken in terms due diligence — it sounds like he was thoroughly vetted.”

Ambrogi said the fact that Vaccarezza was coming from Pinkerton was “an interesting coincidence.”

“He’s had experience at a very large high school. It will not be new to him to be at a large high school and understand the issues there,” she said.

Prior to his start date, Vaccarezza will visit Central to meet with staff and students.

Vaccarezza has been a member of the Pinkerton Academy administration since 2010. Prior to becoming an administrator, Vaccarezza was a social studies teacher and coached freshman and junior varsity boys’ soccer for 10 years. He earned his master’s degree in education from Rivier University in Nashua and a B.A. in history from Elon University in North Carolina.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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