FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Riverside School
30 Lily Pond Road
Lyndonville, VT 05851
Contact: Mel Reis, (802) 745-8136
RIVERSIDE HEAD OF SCHOOL TO RETIRE
Lyndonville, VT – The Board of Trustees for The Riverside School, has announced that Head of School, Michelle Ralston, will retire at the end of the 2019-2020 school year after a distinguished 42-year career in education.
“In order for us to honor the Riverside School’s mission to develop active learners, patient leaders, and engaged citizens in a supportive community, the Head of School must be committed to this goal. For the past three years, Riverside has been fortunate to have had Michelle Ralston’s talents and skills in growing The Riverside School while keeping its mission and its students at the core of her mission,” said Rebecca Hill-Larsen, President of The Riverside School Board of Trustees. “We wish Michelle the very best in her retirement.
Ralston received a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Hartford and a Masters in Education from St. Michael’s College. Her educational career started in 1978 with a math teaching position at the Danville School. She moved on to her alma mater, St. Johnsbury Academy and for the next 19 years, served as a math teacher, Math Department Chair, and Dean of Academic Affairs. She served as the Director of Academics at the King George School and was the Director of Faculty and Instruction for Lyndon Institute from 2011-2016. She became Head of School at Riverside in July of 2016.
Her experiences in education have been diverse. In addition to serving as a teacher, department chair, and administrator, she worked as a consultant with the College Board and Independent School Management (ISM) by conducting workshops and weeklong courses with teachers and administrators located throughout the country and internationally. She worked with the Vermont State Department of Education by leading a Vertical Team initiative to bring together area sending schools to vertically align the curriculum in grades 6-12 in English, math, social studies and science and to bring Advanced Placement® programs to rural schools. She traveled frequently to China for Lyndon Institute supervising their three partner schools. She also led the Committee for Self Study at St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute through the NEASC re-accreditation process.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Head of School at Riverside,” said Ralston. “While the school has grown since its small beginnings in 1981, the entire school community has worked very hard to support the mission of the school and to keep the culture close-knit and special. This stems from the passion of its founding families and the leadership of Head of School, Dr. Laurie Boswell, my predecessor. I am confident that the board, staff, and faculty of Riverside will continue to commit to a future filled with opportunities and success. I wish them all my very best.”
During her tenure as Head of School, Ralston strengthened the management and educational programming of the school by incorporating school team memberships, ushering in a Pre-K program, improving technology (a new computer lab with iMacs and 40 Chrome books), empowering and recruiting faculty, restructuring leadership, redirecting professional development for teachers, instituting a crisis management team, and rejuvenating the Parent Advisory Group. New leadership positions were added including an Assistant Head of School/Director of Co-Curricular Program, Elementary and Middle School Team Leaders, and Director of Extended Day Program.
“I am most proud to have had the opportunity to work with this amazing staff and faculty. The Riverside community is small but very strong and I am grateful to have been part of this dedicated and talented team. The strength of the academic and co-curricular programs at Riverside are attracting some of the best teachers in the country which directly impact our students and our entire Riverside community,” said Ralston.
Her team grew the institutional outreach of the school with the introduction of Riverside “Coffee Houses” and public forums, inviting area professionals to lead lectures on subjects such as social diversity, learning differences, and teaching kindness. She led efforts to improve the communications of the school with parents and alumni and launched a new school website. Riverside is a member of NEASC, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Independent Schools Association of Northern New England (ISANNE), Independent School Management (ISM), and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
“The financial stability of the school is also stronger,” said Board Treasurer Stephanie Giese. “The school’s debt has been reduced, annual and major giving has increased, and the growth in the school’s investments has increased the potential of scholarships for area families. In addition, significant capital improvements were completed. We have adding two new classrooms in the Barn, and a new heating system and hardwood floors and stairs in the Main House.”
A search committee to recruit the next Head of School is being established and the Board of Trustees will announce information regarding this process in the near future.
Ralston plans to retire to Virginia with her partner Joe and their three dogs.
The Riverside School is a dynamic independent school for grades Pre-K through 8th grade located in Lyndonville, Vermont.