The Riverside School is pleased to announce the selection of Michelle Ralston of Waterford, Vermont as its next Head of School effective as of July 1. Ms. Ralston succeeds Riverside’s long-time Head of School Dr. Laurie Boswell, who led the school for nine years before resigning in 2015 due to personal family concerns, and current interim head Kim Butler, Esq.
A search committee led by education consultant Dr. Stephen Sanborn reviewed applications from throughout New England and beyond before choosing Ralston, who impressed the committee, the school's trustees, faculty, and parents as being the best fit for this important position. "Ralston has extensive expertise in curriculum and instruction and her leadership style will compliment Riverside’s culture and climate," said Sonia Peters, Board President. Ralston’s love of children, the learning process, and knowledge of current standards of best practices are aspects we were looking for in the new Head of School. "Across the board, she had the best representation of all those qualities.
Ralston earned her B.A. in mathematics from the University of Hartford and her M.Ed. from St. Michael’s College. She began teaching in Danville then moved to St. Johnsbury Academy where her career spanned 25 years and included positions as mathematics teacher, mathematics department chair, and dean of academic affairs. Ralston worked as an independent curriculum consultant and for the VT Department of Education as grant coordinator. Her most recent position has been at Lyndon Institute where she taught mathematics and currently serves as the dean of faculty.
The Riverside School, which has an enrollment of 74 students, was founded in 1981 and is located on Lily Pond Road in Lyndonville. Its longest serving head was school co- founder Jim Newell, who served until 2000 when Riverside was primarily a grades 4-8 school. Boswell assumed the head’s position in 2006 and since that time the school has doubled in enrollment, expanded to grades K-8, and undertook a successful capital campaign to support the building of a new multi-purpose barn and classroom facility. The school will expand again this summer to add a pre-school program.
Riverside’s mission to develop active learners, patient leaders, and engaged citizens in a supportive community fits well with the educational philosophy Ralston shared with the search committee. Ralston has taught many Riverside alumni and is the grandmother of two current students so she is familiar with the strong academic program and traditions that Riverside enjoys.
Ralston's challenge will be to build on the strong foundation and reputation of the school and to explore new learning opportunities influenced by technology and current research. Ralston said she first wants to learn more about the school community, listen to the various constituencies, and then begin work with the trustees on Riverside’s next strategic plan.