The Nashoba community welcomes a myriad of changes, in many forms, this school year. As all education levels within the district adjust to a fully in-person learning model, the efforts of administrators are focused on creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive educational experience for students and staff.
Aside from starting the school year in-person, the Nashoba Regional School District welcomes a new, leading face to the high school community: principal, Dr. Boynton. Dr. Boynton is spearheading many of the changes coming to the high school within the coming seasons, as well as many of the long term developments being established.
Dr. Boynton’s interest in the district was sparked years ago, and her involvement in the community did not begin as a career search- it actually began as a real estate search: “We had looked at Lancaster, Bolton, and Stow for places for us to move… back in 2011 we learned a lot about the communities and fell in love with the area.”
Her prior research into the nature of the community, its residents, and school system created a strong basis for her interest in taking on an administration position in the high school. Dr. Boynton even expressed interest in joining the NRHS admin team when she applied for the position in 2017, though the time was not right for her to take on the role. But, the position remained in the back of her mind, as she admired the possibility of the school seeking a new principal again in the future.
Dr. Boynton’s previous high school, Reading Memorial High School, in many ways, contrasts the Nashoba environment, as she described Reading as a “different community” with a “densely populated and much larger school”. Nashoba’s student body is significantly smaller than Reading’s, which consists of over 1,200 students.
Such a contrast between school communities may evoke the question, “what was the selling point for Dr. Boynton?”: “It’s the whole package. I love the idea of a district coming together in one building. I love that each of the three towns has their own identities and personalities, but we come together, here, at Nashoba Regional… Since school has started, I have loved the size of this school. It’s like a family. Starting here on July 1st felt like coming home.”
One draw for Nashoba’s new principal was the interesting flexibility within the curriculum offered here: “The comprehensiveness of programs offered really enticed me to come here.”
Dr. Boynton commented on the apple crisp she was offered from a member of a Nashoba “foods” class: “That comprehensive programming is really important in enhancing the wide range of programming and offerings for students through the new building project.”
The presence of curriculum and programming based on social-emotional learning is also a major focus of administration, and is a long-term goal for the years to come: “The focus on social-emotional learning is crucial… and it has to be the foundation moving forward. Universally, even pre-covid, we saw so many students struggling socially, emotionally, and mentally, but the pandemic intensified this rise in mental illness.”
Dr. Boynton believes that the new building will be a catalyst for the adoption of a social-emotional learning environment, and expresses the imperativity of prioritizing students mental and emotional health: “In building a new high school we have to think about who we want our students to be as they move through their high school experience. “We have to paint that portrait of a Nashoba graduate and think about what we want students to experience during their time here.”
A complex project to design a new high school is also in the works, in addition to the many other new developments happening currently. The adoption of the new Nashoba mascot, the wolf, also occupies much of the administration’s attention: “I love the wolf and the energy that it has brought to the students and staff… There are some growing pains and I want to appreciate how people feel about the loss of the Chieftain. Change happens, but it is about how we embrace the change… and move forward.”
Though the complete incorporation of the wolf into the Nashoba “rebranding” will take time due to budgetary reasons, it will be an evolving process that aims to make the school community a more inclusive and conscientious space.
Dr. Boynton’s dedication to binding the gap between staff and students is critical following the switch back to in-person learning, as open communication within the school environment will enable schoolwide success on a variety of levels. On forming new relationships with students and staff, Dr. Boynton expresses that “small group meetings have been key in forming strong relationships with administrators and staff.” She also voices her interest in frequently hosting “a loose principal’s advisory group” where she would set aside time to meet with various members of the high school community to gage an understanding of “what’s been going on” at Nashoba. This would allow administrators to work side-by-side with student leaders, advisors, and staff to remain involved in the endeavors of the different, moving parts of Nashoba.
As this year of change continues, the entire high school community graciously welcomes Dr. Boynton to the administration team. Her role in this change will be instrumental moving forward, as everyone at the high school will follow her lead in developing new traditions and embracing what it truly means to be a member of the Nashoba community.