When students of the Hill View Montessori Charter Public School returned to the classroom this week, they were greeted by two new faces.
This year, former Groton administrator Ruthann Goguen is Hill View's third executive director. In addition, Lori Klucznik, former assistant director of the River Valley Montessori Charter School in Newburyport, is Hill View's new educational program director.
"We want to open doors for kids," Goguen said. "We want strong learners. I believe in that philosophy of letting kids lead their learning."
Goguen's appointment came just over a month after the official resignation of former Hill View Director Janet Begin, who announced last March her plan to resign from the school on June 30 following written staff complaints about her management style.
Begin remained with Hill View until Aug. 12 to help the new hires transition into the school.
"It's nice for me to be able to hand it over," she said. "I'm really excited about the new leadership of the school. They're both smart and competent people."
Previously, Goguen had served Groton as the district administrator of curriculum and accountability, as well as a principal of the Florence Roche Elementary School. Dozens of hand-crafted goodbye cards from Groton school children adorn the walls of her office.
For the past three weeks, Goguen said she's tried to get herself up to speed on the challenges facing Hill View this year.
"The administration here drowned me with warm welcomes," she said. "I was very fortunate."
A search committee of parents, staff and trustees considered close to 50 applications for the executive director position before settling on Goguen.
"She definitely impressed the hiring committee," said Erik Ingersoll, chairperson for the Hill View Board of Trustees. "This is easily one of the most important hires we make."
Klucznik, a 10-year veteran of the Montessori model from her time at River Valley, said she looks forward to continue with the same educational style. She replaces Donna Straight as the school's educational program director.
"I have a heart for a Montessori model," she said.
Goguen's annual salary is $110,000. Klucznik makes $80,000 a year.
The Montessori teaching philosophy focuses on a child's creativity and interests, while recognizing that students learn at different rates.
Besides meeting with school staff, Hill View administration arranged a popsicle party night to introduce Goguen and Klucznik before parents and students.
Ingersoll said he is impressed with the harmony the two new hires have brought to the school's staff.
"By all accounts, they seem to be gelling and working together as a team," he said.
Following Begin's resignation, students and staff dedicated a tree outside of the school in her name.
"(Hill View) will always hold a special place in my heart," she said. "I'll definitely miss the students."
Begin said she has no plans to retire, but will focus on her family and doing volunteer work for the next few months.
Hill View, which has a kindergarten through eighth grade, graduated its first eighth-grade class last year, passing out diplomas to 30 students. The school will have 296 students this year.
Hill View will also stand alone as Haverhill's sole Montessori school, following the closure of Merrimack Montessori School, a private nonprofit school, this May after 45 years in operation.