The coming academic year is a time “get everybody back to center” at Andover High School, acording to new principal Chrisipher Lord, the school’s third leader in the last four years.
Last school year was not kind to Andover High. The teachers union voted to enter Work-to-Rule work action, cutting off volunteer activities such as college recommendations for students expecting their help. A hazing scandal involving the school’s basketball program led to student suspensions, action in court and a review of school policies.
As the 2012-13 school year approaches and Andover High gears for its re-accreditation, a new contract is in place, some new sports policies have been adopted and interim principal Tom Sharkey has returned to retirement, ushering in a new leader from Pawtucket, R.I.
That leader, Lord, has been in Andover since his July 1 hire date. He has spent the summer meeting with parents and students at the school and in their homes, in the classroom and at the dinner table. After many conversations, he said he’s ready to take charge.
“There is so much opportunity here, so many wonderful things already in place,” said Lord. “We just need to refocus ourselves and get almost a spiritual meaning of ‘excellence’ in everyone’s mind.”
“This is a year to reflect and get everybody back to center, get people thinking about what it is to have a meaningful high school,” continued Lord. The school needs to focus on “how we can work together to make this a fun and interesting, spirited, intelligent, innovative place for young people, and to get the grownups playing in the same sandbox — happily.”
Teachers brace for more work
Of the handful of changes coming to Andover High this year, possibly the most contentious of them is the switch to a three-courses-per-semester teaching model for the school’s teachers, after two years of turbulent contract talks ended with teachers accepting the teaching of an extra course one semester in exchange for a 5 percent boost in pay over three years.