Riverview Charter School hires chairwoman of its board as new director

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Riverview Charter School hires chairwoman of its board as new director

By KATE CERVE kcerve@beaufortgazette.com 843-706-8177
Published Thursday, December 16, 2010   |  497 Words  |  

Riverview Charter School hired the chairwoman of its board as the school's next leader by a unanimous vote Thursday night.

Alison Thomas was a member of the original committee that formed the school and began chairing the board before Riverview opened in August 2009.

She has a third-grader at the school and expects her son to start kindergarten at Riverview next year.

Thomas said moving into the role of director will allow her to further her commitment to the school.

"It gives me a unique opportunity to be closer to what I believe is most meaningful, which is the classroom," she said.

This will be Thomas' first paid position at a school. She worked for several years as an architect until her second child was born. In addition to working with Riverview, she has served on the board of the private E.C. Montessori School on Lady's Island.

Thomas' hiring was recommended by a committee of school staff and board members formed to search for internal candidates for administrative roles.

"There are no better experts on this school than the people who are working within its doors everyday," said Mallory Baches, a member of both the school's board and search committee.

Riverview teacher Jenna Ehmann, a member of the search committee, said Riverview needs someone different than the typical principal to help it move past the challenges it has faced since opening.

She said Thomas is the person for the job.

"We can think of no one else who would not only overcome these challenges but excel in taking Riverview into the future," she said.

The board also approved other administrative hires recommended by the committee Thursday, including Mandy Klepper, now the school's office manager, as operations manager.

The board hired a three-person team for curriculum, instruction and assessment: AnnMarie Bowden, the school's current communications director and a past Riverview board member; Donna Haram, a first-grade teacher at the school; and AK Harper, the school's learning specialist.

Thomas, Klepper and Bowden will begin in January. Haram and Harper will take on their new positions at the end of the school year.

Riverview's current director, Eileen Williams, and its associate director, Jim Crawford, will remain at the school for an extended period to help the new hires transition into the roles. Both came out of retirement this summer to lead the school.

Contracts, including salaries, for the positions are still being negotiated, Baches said.

Thomas will be Riverview's fourth director.

The first, Eleanore Bednarsh, was fired in December 2009 after school officials said she didn't meet performance goals.

Wendy Randle was hired as the school's second director in April but resigned for personal reasons after less than a month on the job.

Williams has been leading the school since June.