Just days after Consentino Principal John Mele announced he wanted to step down from his position to spend more time with his family, the school's assistant principal was chosen to replace him.

Superintendent Margaret Marotta said she offered existing Assistant Principal Richard Poor the position of interim principal for the 2020-2021 school year and that he accepted the offer.

The move comes after Mele said he wants to continue to serve the Consentino community by moving into an assistant principal position.

Poor's principal contract is being negotiated and it is anticipated that he will take over as principal July 1, school officials said.

Poor, 31, was born and raised in Haverhill. He attended Walnut Square Elementary School and Whittier Middle School, and was a member of the Haverhill High School Class of 2007.

Marotta said Poor has performed exceptionally as assistant principal for the past three years and has fostered solid relationships with students, families and staff members.

She said his knowledge of the school and the broader community is invaluable and, during this time of the coronavirus crisis, he will provide stability to the Consentino community.

"Assistant Principal Poor and Principal John Mele have been working together as a team for more than three years and together have done tremendous work instituting positive change at the Consentino Middle School," Marotta said. "I believe that the continuity of this continued partnership will have a positive impact on the growth of the school, and I know John and Rich look forward to their continued work together."

While attending Haverhill High School, Poor served as Jr. ROTC cadet commander. In his junior year, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Following graduation in June of 2007, he went on active duty as a medic with the 101st Airborne Division and was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months, providing medical care to wounded soldiers.

After his discharge from the military in 2009, he earned a bachelor degree in history from Framingham State University and a masters in secondary education from Endicott College. He taught seventh-grade history classes in Lawrence public schools for five years and, in November of 2017, was hired as an assistant principal at Consentino. Several weeks earlier he was named Teacher of the Year in Lawrence.

During his first year at Consentino, Poor earned his certificate of advanced graduate studies from American International College and is pursuing a doctorate degree in education.

Poor said he wants to continue to reduce the school's suspension rate, which he said went from about 200 during his first year to 79 last year, when the school introduced its Positive Behavior and Supports program. The number of suspensions dropped to 35 this year as of March 13 when schools closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, he said.

"We rely on our counselors to build relationships with students and support them in making appropriate choices," Poor said.

He said he wants to continue raising student achievement through programs such as iReady, a diagnostic tool that has resulted in significant growth in grade-level performance in reading and mathematics.

"We also want to continue to work on reducing chronic absenteeism by calling parents, knocking on doors and inviting families into the school for family engagement events," Poor said. "All of these things help increase student achievement."

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