Photo of Dr. Nicol
As superintendent of the Ellington Public Schools, Dr. Scott Nicol is proud to co-create with students, teachers, parents, administrators and the community to build a culture of learning that challenges and inspires all students on their personalized educational journey. Before he came to Ellington in 2015, Dr. Nicol served as the Executive Director of Performance Management for the Hartford Public Schools. He has served as a principal for Regional School District #13 (Durham and Middlefield), an assistant principal for the Vernon Public Schools, and a history teacher for Regional School District #8 (Hebron, Andover and Marlborough). A graduate of nearby Rockville High School, Dr. Nicol received his undergraduate degree from Providence College and holds a doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Nicol resides in Portland with his wife, Heather, and two sons, Carson and Reese.


Dear Ellington Family –

I write to update you on two Ellington Public Schools' (EPS) initiatives:

Ellington High School (EHS) Principal Search

Mastery-Based Learning (MBL)

EHS Principal Search

There are three phases to the EHS Principal Search, with each phase focusing on a particular aspect of input into this important decision.

Phase One

Board members, parents, staff and students provide verbal and written input as to the characteristics they desire of the next principal;

Phase Two

The principal search committee, comprised of Board members, parents, staff and students, interviews candidates and recommends finalist(s);

Phase Three

Board members, parents, staff and students dialogue with finalist(s) and provide feedback to the Superintendent.

Phase One was completed in September and the results were reported to the Board of Education at its September 27, 2017 meeting. Based on the input received from Board members, parents, staff and students, the following profile was developed:

Ellington High School's Principal will...

employ effective and strategic verbal and written communications with all stakeholders regarding the work related to the mission and focus areas of the school district and the high school;

ensure Ellington's cultural and racial diversity enriches students' lives and prepares them to be leaders in an evolving society;

utilize a student-centered approach encouraging students to find their voice, follow their passion, and develop a solution-oriented and innovative mindset;

enhance the partnership with Ellington Middle School to ensure a seamless and welcoming transition from grade 8 to 9 and continue a student's personalized and academically rigorous 7–12 journey;

lead instructional initiatives (i.e. Mastery Based Learning) to ensure cohesiveness, ownership, and understanding amongst parents, students, and staff;

leverage the arts, athletics, STEM, and other student pursuits to ensure a comprehensive learning experience;

employ strategies such as mindfulness, physical fitness, and healthy food practices to enhance the wellbeing of staff and students;

model accountability, growth mindset, and commitment to continual improvement for students and staff;

and, is mission driven to ensure Ellington High School continues to be a high caliber, model learning institution for all students in our local, regional, and national communities.

These leadership characteristics will drive the principal search committee's work throughout Phase Two of the process. In addition to Board of Education members and EPS administration, the following individuals make up the search committee:

Lori Caron

EHS & EMS Parent and Crystal Lake Admin. Assistant

Beth Shaw

EHS/EMS and Crystal Lake Parent and EMS Counselor

Amanda Marcus

EHS Junior Student

Nick Willett

EHS Senior Student and BOE Student Representative

Matt DeLassus

EHS Band Teacher

Mark Mahler

EHS English Teacher

Dylan Schroth

EHS Special Education Teacher

Jack Harrington

EHS Paraprofessional

Cathy Dziadul

EHS Admin. Assistant

To learn more about the EHS student perspective regarding the principal search, you may wish to watch this interview with Senior Nick Willett and Junior Mandy Marcus.

EHS Principal Search Video

Phase Three of the process will occur in mid- to late November. Details will be forthcoming.

The goal is for the Superintendent to recommend a candidate to the Board of Education at the December 20, 2017 meeting and for the new EHS principal to start his/her official duties on July 1, 2018.

Mastery-Based Learning (MBL)

During the 2016-2017 school year the Ellington Board of Education adopted four areas of focus:

Personalized Learning

Equitable Opportunities

Innovative Mindset

Mastery-Based Learning

Since that time, EPS faculty, administration, and Board members have been working in these four areas in all five of the schools. In fact, the Board of Education annually approves the District Improvement Plan which is aligned to these four areas.

The Mastery-Based Learning FAQ document was developed by district administrators and teachers, based upon input from parents and others from the May 3rd BOE meeting and May 9th MBL Parent Open Forum, and was communicated in a letter sent to EPS parents on June 8, 2017.

Two points of interest regarding the MBL – FAQ are as follows:

Mastery-based learning does not equate to deleveling. Ellington High School plans to maintain the current practice of having students be able to select to take courses at the college preparatory, honors and Advanced Placement/Early College Experience levels.

Ellington High School will not be eliminating grades for the foreseeable future. We are currently working on ways to provide more detailed grading for students and parents that will provide more information directly related to the standards addressed in each course. This will include a grade.

In a letter communicated to parents on September 21, 2017, the school district indicated it would be convening a mastery-based learning task force to develop a long-range plan grades K - 12. Members of the district task force will have opportunities to learn more about mastery-based learning work in Ellington and across the country and provide input regarding policy changes and communication to the community.

The task force will review and discuss various topics related to MBL which have been internally examined by EPS staff over the past several years.

For example, and although EHS transcripts reported to colleges have not and will not change for the foreseeable future, the task force will discuss resources such as this:

70 New England Colleges' Position on MBL / Admissions (Harvard, Tufts, MIT etc.)

In addition, the task force will discuss issues related to MBL such as the district homework policy and grading practices with resources such as this:

Harvard's Organic Chemistry's Grading Policy - The Harvard Crimson 09-14-2017

The task force will include Board members, staff, parents, and students. Interested parents who would like to volunteer their time should email Jennifer O'Brien, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, by Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at expressing their interest.

The progress of the task force will be regularly communicated at future Board of Education meetings and other forums as necessary.

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