Meet Chris Corkery, Stark’s new principal
From the war-torn countries of Iraq and Kuwait to the classrooms of a Manchester high school, Chris Corkery has been trained to take the lead, and as he prepares to head the John Stark Regional High School as principal, Corkery hopes his leadership skills will help the school thrive.
Corkery will begin serving as principal of the high school that serves students from Weare and Henniker on July 1. He will replace Chris Mosca, the current principal, who will be returning to Maine to be with his family.
Corkery has been serving as the assistant principal at Campbell High School in Litchfield and anticipates being an enthusiastic leader in Weare.
“I’ve got all kinds of excitement and energy,” he said. “I hope that’s what they wanted.”
Corkery said he expects to draw on his skills at building teams and collaborating to get important jobs done. And it’s his experience in the military that gives him the confidence that he’ll be able to pull that off.
As retired U.S. Army colonel, Corkery has served all over the world. In 2003, he was sent to Iraq for a two-year tour and was charged with bringing in supplies for Americans stationed in the region.
“We were the regional Wal-Mart for 30,000 troops,” he said.
Then in 2007, Corkery was given the task of running the port of Kuwait. With 12,000 people under his command and $92 million in military contracts crossing his desk, Corkery had to ensure operations at the port ran smoothly and safely.
Leaving one kind of war zone and heading into another, Corkery was deployed to Haiti in 2010 after a devastating earthquake nearly destroyed the island nation. Again, Corkery was charged with the logistics of getting supplies in and out of the country, as well as reconstruction.
“I’ve got a lot of experience working with people to give them the support they need,” said Corkery, who has earned two Bronze Stars for his service.
Corkery earned his masters of education in Administration and Supervision from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Prior to working at Campbell High School, he was a math teacher at Manchester Central High School, where he also completed his principalship practicum.
He said the transition from a military lifestyle to the classroom was an easy one, and he enjoyed moving from a style of leadership that was basically “do it this way,” to a style that said, “let’s do this together.”
Being part of the students’ lives is important to Corkery who maintains a close relationship with the kids at Campbell High School.
“At Campbell, I can sit down at any one of the tables at lunch and fit right in,” he said. “I enjoy being part of a group of adults working with young people to help make them adults.”
The biggest challenges Corkery sees at John Stark will be continuing to make the transition to competency-based curriculum that gets every kid over the bar of proficiency.
“We want every kid to be college and career ready when they leave high school,” he said.
There also needs to be attention paid to adopting common core curriculum which will allow students to transfer from one school to the next without losing credits because the classes are so different.
And because Stark is a school in need of improvement under the No Child Left Behind act, the goal will be to improve math scores throughout the high school.
“Those plans are already well in place,” said Corkery, “so we just have to see them through.”