LONDONDERRY, Vt. – The Flood Brook School’s new principal, Amy Harlow, was destined to go into education. “Growing up, when I was babysitting, the kids loved to play school and I always acted the role of teacher,” Harlow says. Her parents also made a contribution, as her father served as a director at the School for International Training based in southern Vermont. “My dad’s work allowed me to see the world at an early age,” says Harlow. “It gave me an opportunity to travel. I attended school in Brazil for a year. It was a great learning experience, but I have loved growing up in Vermont.”
Harlow will begin her short daily commute from her home in Westminster July 1. One of five schools in the Taconic & Green School District, the Flood Brook School serves the communities of Landgrove, Londonderry, Peru, and Weston. Parents, teachers, and students from each of the four towns played a key role in selecting their new FBS leader. They worked together to compile a list of characteristics and skills they wanted in their new principal. They also participated in the interviewing process that included a special panel of middle school students who interviewed the final four candidates.
“Amy checked off all the boxes,” says Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union Superintendent Randi Lowe. “Her passion for education, connection with the kids, openness to change and collaborative ideas for working with faculty were all evident from the very start. We are so excited to have Amy as part of our team. Students were at the heart of what she talked about.”
Harlow comes to her new assignment from her role as the Pre-K to 4th grade principal at the Washington Village Campus of the Echo Valley Community School District near Montpelier. For the two years prior to the Echo Valley merger of Orange and Washington, she was the principal of the Washington Village School grades Pre-K through 8. Before moving into administration, Harlow thrived in the classroom as an elementary education teacher at the Saxons River Elementary School in Rockingham. During her teaching years, Harlow found time to pursue her love of singing by staging community productions of musicals, such as “The Music Man” and “Peter Pan.” After 26 years in the classroom, Harlow was ready for the next move in her career.
“I learned an important lesson my first day as principal,” Harlow says. “Tradition called for all students and teachers to meet outside before the start of school. When everyone went to their assigned classrooms, I was left alone outside. I realized right then that my job was to help create a community in my building in the same way that teachers build community in their classrooms. I needed to be seen and interact with the students, staff, and faculty in order to gain their respect and trust.”
Working through this pandemic has been an education in itself for Harlow. “We’ve been required to think differently and we must recognize the possibilities we can carry into the future.” Harlow is especially keen to have learned how Flood Brook has used nature – by moving classwork outdoors to enhance learning – in these claustrophobic times.
The pandemic has also allowed Harlow to explore her own possibilities. In normal years, Harlow travels the world in her spare time as part of Village Harmony, an international chorus based in Vermont. While the shut down kept Harlow at home last year, she joined fellow members of her chorus from around the world to perform online. “If you can’t go out into the world,” Harlow says, laughing, “you do anything you can in order to bring the world to you.”
Harlow is excited to begin the work of getting to know the Flood Brook School community and the people who support the education of her students!