Pinckney named CSSU Superintendent

By Kim Howard
Observer staff

The Chittenden South Supervisory Union Board of School Directors announced on Monday that Elaine F. Pinckney has been appointed superintendent for the public schools serving the towns of Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George and Williston. She will begin her duties Nov. 6.

“I’m really looking forward to being back in Chittenden South working with a really quality group of leaders,” Pinckney said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Pinckney, 57, was the Williston School District Leader from 1998-2004 when she was tapped to be the Vermont State Deputy Commissioner of Education, a position she’s been in since leaving Williston schools. A current Williston resident, Pinckney was a principal in Stowe and Morrisville for five years each. Combined with elementary teaching experience and work as a bilingual program director, Pinckney has 33 years of education experience. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont.

Pinckney said though she’s learned a great deal in her position with the state, the work is not as cohesive as working within a school district. She said she looks forward to returning to that type of environment.

“I miss working with the same group of people,” she said. “Consistently you’re working with the same key leaders with the same vision with the same mission for the same kids over time.”

Pinckney acknowledges the new role will bring many more night meetings than her current position requires.

“This is at a good time in my life,” she said. “Both of my boys are in college. Whereas last year I was going to football games, hockey games, lacrosse games, team dinners, school activities… I have that time now. I’m not asking for a zillion night meetings, but I’m not seeing that as the kind of challenge that it would have been for me even last year when I had a senior in high school.”

Pinckney said she expects her experience at the state level will serve her well as CSSU superintendent. Helping initiate the Vermont Educational Leadership Collaborative – a group of key educators throughout Vermont who are creating leadership development among state educators – has been valuable, she said. Her regional connections, and some national connections, as well as the work the state has done on assessment will also be valuable, she said.

“I certainly know where all the resources are, and that’s important,” Pinckney said. “I think it’s easy to be doing your work and not realize where you can turn to for support.”

Williston School Board Chairwoman Marty Sundby said in an e-mail she is very pleased with Pinckney’s appointment.

“She comes to the position with the ability to jump right in since she already has a good understanding of what CSSU is all about and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Sundby said. “Her vision of where education needs to be as well as her collaborative approach will serve our District well.”

Though former superintendent Brian O’Regan announced his resignation in November, a screening committee was unable to identify any suitable candidates by spring. Since July, Bob Mason, chief operating officer for the supervisory union, has served as the union leader in an interim capacity to allow the CSSU Board time to find an appropriate candidate for the vacant position.