ALLENSTOWN — When students head back to school in late August, they’ll be greeted by two new faces and two in different places.
The Allenstown School District has turned from its longstanding approach of having one principal and one assistant principal who cover two schools in favor of having one principal at each school and no vice principals.
Anthony Blinn, who had served as special education administrator in Allenstown for the last 11 years, has been named principal at Allenstown Elementary School, while Mark Dangora, who had been the district’s assistant principal, takes the helm at Armand Dupont School. Kathleen Murphy, who worked as a special education case manager in the Sanborn Regional School District for four years, replaces Blinn as the district’s special education administrator, and Gail Paludi takes over as superintendent of School Administrative Unit 53 and will oversee Allenstown, Chichester and Epsom educational operations.
“We have a totally new administration,” said Dangora. “It’s sort of like the Red Sox dumping everyone and getting new folks in with new energy and new ideas. It’s a great time to be in Allenstown.”
The four administrators met several weeks ago and established a fresh mission statement for the district: “Fostering a positive climate that is dedicated to putting students first and building pride in our schools and community.”
“Our two buildings (Allenstown Elementary School and Armand Dupont School) are very connected,” said Blinn. “A lot of teachers have been here awhile and we’re really putting a lot of effort into keeping the district as one and not having the two buildings operate separately.”
“Because the town is so small and we do share many families at both schools, it’s a pretty unique situation,” said Dangora. “We’re not Manchester or Nashua. We’re a very tight-knit community, and we have the luxury of collaborating with one another.”
In addition to the renewed focus on positive attitude and community, the district has also invested in fresh coats of paint at both schools, the cleaning up and refurbishing of the schools’ playgrounds and other aesthetic improvements, said Blinn.
“The school board has been tremendously supportive with the steps we’ve taken this summer,” he said.
Both principals said they’re looking forward to kicking the year off with the annual barbecues at the two schools.
Allenstown Elementary School and Armand Dupont School have scheduled their kick-off festivities for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 and Sept. 11, respectively.
“Allenstown is a small hardworking town, and when things work right and people are communicating and collaborating, it creates a truly great experience for everyone,” said Dangora. “Small towns get pushed to the side sometimes, and this may sound cliche, but I really think Allenstown is a great place to be right now.”