By Audrey Richardson
Special To The Standard
POMFRET — On a Tuesday morning Principal Tom McKone can be found where he feels most comfortable, helping students with their work, in their classroom. Although he seems as if he has been at the school for years, he was hired just last spring as the new interim principal at the Pomfret School. McKone is a veteran teacher and administrator from Montpelier, Vermont.
“I have taught every grade from five to 12,” said McKone. Also on McKone’s resume are positions such as curriculum coordinator, principal, and assistant principal. He is a graduate of the University of Hartford and received his masters in education and Saint Michaels College. He was last principal at Northfield Middle and High School and after 31 years in education, McKone was ready to retire.
Although the serenity of retirement called to him, he could not stay static when Pomfret posted the part time position. “In the spring there were some different possibilities for part time work, but I really wanted to stay in education. I knew this job was perfect for me,” he said about the opportunity to teach at the Pomfret School. It was important to McKone that he find a job that allowed him a break from the five day a week 40 hour grind that many educators often exceed. However, McKone could not see himself anywhere else but a school. “It was the only job I actually applied for. I thought wow, sounds like a great school and a great community,” explained McKone. His early connections to this area mostly include being one of the elite who has actually hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. “I hiked from Georgia to Maine. I hiked the whole thing never knowing I’d be a principal in a school where the students are also able to hike a portion of the trail,” he explained.
McKone is now pleased to be a part of this community. Although he still lives in Montpelier, and has for the last 30 years, he says he thoroughly enjoys the scenic hour drive nearly everyday. As a part time principal, McKone’s schedule has him at the school two and a half days a week. However, due to the bustle of the new school year and the chaos of Irene, McKone has found himself at the school almost everyday. “This is an excellent school with a great curriculum and a strong veteran staff. This is why I wanted to apply here,” said McKone about the rewards of working at the Pomfret School. McKone also said he finds inspiration in the school mission statement. “It really guides what goes on here” he said.
Although McKone is delighted by his new position, the future of his principalship is technically limited to one year. “Interim positions like this are typical in schools with declining populations,” said McKone. McKone is uncertain if the school board will hire him on for another year and at this point he is simply happy to be working in the Pomfret School Community. “The students are very charming. Everyday I am spending time in the classrooms and that is a priority for me,” said McKone.
McKone is pleased to be back in an elementary school again and strives to be a visible and involved leader at the school. Thus far, he has participated in one community dinner held to thank those who contributed to the relief efforts after hurricane Irene. Over 200 people attended the dinner where many of his students shared reflections and stories of the ordeal. “It was a great opportunity to have people together and move on as a community,” he said about the dinner. As the community rebuilds itself, McKone looks forward to the year ahead and giving strength to his new school.
This article first appeared in the September 22nd print edition of the Vermont Standard.