PETERBOROUGH — Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunder announces that longtime South Meadow School Principal Anne O’Bryant will retire at the end of the school year.
Principal O’Bryant will officially retire on June 30 after eight years at South Meadow School.
“It is saddening to see Anne go,” Superintendent Rizzo Saunders said. “She has shown incredible dedication to the students and staff of South Meadow School, making it a great place to learn and work. We wish her all the best in retirement.”
During her time at South Meadow School, Principal O’Bryant has worked to foster a strong sense of community among students both in and out of the classroom. Whether that be joining students on their annual trips down to Washington, D.C., helping the student council organize spirit weeks or ensuring that students have a robust offering of extracurricular activities, she has worked to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for SMS students.
She also started a student mentor program, where seventh and eighth grade students help all new students transition to the middle school.
“The idea is that students are able to immediately make connections with their peers when they first arrive at the school by having a mentor assigned to them,” Principal O’Bryant said. “This program was equally important for the mentors because they earn skills to be school leaders and how to support the younger students.”
Additionally, Principal O’Bryant organized the SMS StemFest for students in grades four to eight for four years. The event was not held during the COVID-19 pandemic out of an abundance of caution. The program brought science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students from the University of New Hampshire to work with the middle school students on a variety of STEM-related activities. Students from the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District were invited to participate and local businesses helped pay for busing and lunches for the event.
“It is a great day for our young students to see the college students as teachers and mentors,” Principal O’Bryant said. “This was another program that showed collaboration with the community and resources in our area.”
During retirement, Principal O’Bryant is looking forward to spending time outdoors.
“When you’ve been doing something your whole life and it’s something that you’re really passionate about, it can be bittersweet to leave,” she said. “We have had so many things at the middle school that connect kids and make them want to be here, and have been able to continue that work through the pandemic. This community embraces the kids and shows that their priority is what’s best for the kids.”
The hiring process for a new candidate began in February, and staff and community members were able to provide input about leadership qualities they were looking for. Staff, parents and administrators served on the search committee and a nomination for the new principal will be brought to the School Board meeting on April 20. Once chosen, the new principal will begin on July 1.