Merrill accepts AMHS principal position

BENNINGTON — Sarah Merrill has accepted the Arlington School Board's offer and will be the next principal of Arlington Memorial Middle and High School.

The board voted unanimously on Feb. 27 to offer Merrill, an educator with close ties to Arlington and southern Vermont, the principal's position. The school announced on Saturday that the reunion between the Arlington School system and Merrill, who is herself a graduate of AMHS, was official.

"I was impressed by her leadership abilities and get-it-done attitude," said Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent William Bazyk. "She is considered one of the finest principals in southern Vermont and will bring enthusiasm and excitement to AMHS. We are fortunate she is coming home."

Merrill began her career in education at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts where she assisted students who were deaf, blind, and severely impaired. She then returned to Vermont, where she was the director of parks and recreation in Manchester and Hartland and later was appointed the director of student life and athletics at Long Tail School. She served as a third grade teacher at Manchester Elementary Middle School and spent four years as assistant principal before she was named principal in 2011. She left MEMS after the 2014-2015 school year for her current position as principal at West Rutland School, a K-12 school in the Rutland Central Supervisory Union..

"I look forward to working with the Arlington students, staff and community to continue the longstanding school traditions of pride, respect and excellence, so well represented in our small Vermont town," said Merrill. "I am excited to return to where it all began for me; I will lead in the spirit of the great principals who roamed the AMHS halls before me and other Vermont educational leaders who have led me down this professional path."

Merrill received her master's degree in education from the University of Phoenix and her undergraduate degree in social work from Castleton University. She has also completed postgraduate work in educational leadership from the Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina and transformational school leadership from Vermont's Snelling Center for Government, according to a press release from the school district. Merrill and her husband, Nate, live in Arlington.

"I think we're really lucky to have somebody who is so uniquely qualified," said board chairwoman Nicol Whalen during a community meet-and-greet with Merrill prior to the board's vote to offer her the positon. "Her professional experience is exceptional, and the community already knows her." She added that Merrill's experiences in implementing Act 77 and in navigating Act 46 with West Rutland will be a benefit to Arlington. "The stars aligned," said Whalen.

Bazyk said that the screening committee narrowed the 10 candidates who applied down to two finalists, one of whom eventually withdrew from the process, leaving Merrill as the sole remaining candidate.

AMHS media specialist Megan Maguire, who served on the screening committee, said that that committee was very satisfied with the result of the search process. The committee was looking for a new principal that displayed investment in the community, longevity, innovation, and an understanding of the unique challenges Arlington faces educationally, she said.

Derek Carson can be reached at, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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