WILTON — One man, two schools and a new year just on the horizon may be a challenge for Timothy O’Connell, but it’s one the new principal of the Florence Rideout Elementary School and the Lyndeborough Central School is looking forward to meeting.
O’Connell, 40, has been hired to serve as administrator at both schools in the Wilton-Lyndeborough School District, replacing Principal Ken Griffin at Florence Rideout and Principal Susan Tussing at Lyndeborough.
Serving as principal of two unique schools is “a little different,” said O’Connell, “and will propose unique challenges for me.”
O’Connell attended Plymouth State University for both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees and taught sixth grade in Brookline for 11 years.
He said he was inspired by the administrators he worked for to leave the classroom and aim for the main office. In Winchendon, Mass., and at Reeds Ferry in Merrimack, O’Connell began honing his management skills as assistant principal, and returned to Winchendon to serve as principal of the school.
“I always wanted to lead a school, and to have a chance to make an impact,” said O’Connell. “You could say it’s a calling.”
And he always dreamed of working in a district like Wilton-Lyndeborough.
“I’ve had my eye on this district for a long time,” he said. “At small, rural schools, you can develop rapports with the parents, and work closely with the staff and the kids. It’s an intimate setting that allows me to be involved in what’s happening.”
It’s also close to home for O’Connell, who lives in Wilton with his family.
Between the two elementary schools there are around 270 students, said O’Connell, and as summer rolls steadily toward the new year, he’s spent a lot of time thinking about how he’s going to balance his time between the two buildings located several miles apart.
“I think I’m just going to have to learn as I go,” he said. “Being a principal, I can start out my day with a list of things to do and circumstances will arise that will make it impossible to cross anything off that list. In this job, you’ve got to be flexible, and you’ve got to do what ever it takes to support your staff and your students.”
On July 31, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., O’Connell will be hosting an ice cream social at Goss Park, a local recreation center.
“I want to give people a chance to meet me in a really informal way,” O’Connell said.