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Parks and Van Nostrand Named New Co-Principals at Essex High School

May 12, 2020

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. - Tamara Parks and Donald Van Nostrand have been named the new Co-Principals for Essex High School. Parks and Van Nostrand will take over for current EHS Principal Rob Reardon, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Reardon has worked at EHS for 40 years, including the last 16 as principal. 


“We are fortunate to have found two high-quality administrators and I am excited about the collaborative leadership model that Tamara Parks and Don Van Nostrand will be a part of. Their strengths are complementary to one another and we will all benefit from their collective knowledge and experiences,” said EWSD Superintendent Beth Cobb. “I am enthusiastic about the future of EHS and CTE developing a stronger collaborative partnership.”


This principal search took a creative approach to address the needs and wants of the Essex and Westford community members, students, and staff. Using a collaborative, thorough process, the Essex Westford School District decided to implement a co-principal leadership model at EHS.


The co-principalship is a model that utilizes a distributive and collaborative approach to leadership and matches the District’s vision of creating a collaborative culture. It will provide the capacity to lead and to dig deep into the four areas of focus which were determined by stakeholders (innovative leadership, instructional leadership, safety and security, and inclusive design). 


With the elimination of an administrative position, the 2020-21 budget will not see an increase due to the introduction of this new co-principal model. 


Parks comes to Vermont after spending the last six years as a biology teacher and chair of the Advisor’s Department at City-As School, one of the oldest and most successful alternative high schools in New York City. 


A Master STEM Educator for New York City and New York State at Math for America, Parks helped open the Pan American International High School for English Language Learners in Queens in 2006, where she would go on to teach science and English as a second language for eight years.


She completed a year-long superintendent’s fellowship at the Columbia University Teachers College where she focused on how to prepare students for college success, while creating progressions in academics as well as personal skills and behaviors.


Parks graduated from Indiana University and also holds master’s degrees in education from both Queens College and New England College. She was also a District Finalist for the Big Apple Teacher Awards in 2017. 


Currently the Interim Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union, Van Nostrand brings a wealth of experience as a principal, superintendent, and teacher into his new role. From 2014-17 he was the Orleans Central Supervisory Union Superintendent and was also the Interim Superintendent for the Grand Isle Supervisory Union from 2017-18. 


Van Nostrand’s background as a principal includes stops at J.J. Flynn Elementary School, Waterford School, and as an assistant principal at Groveton Junior/Senior High School in New Hampshire. 


He has held many seats on state and regional boards, including the New England Association of School Superintendents, Trustee for the Vermont Principal Association, and President of the Northeast Region Superintendents. 


Van Nostrand earned his college degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam and a master’s in education at the University of New England. In 2015 he finished his doctor of philosophy in leadership studies from Franklin Pierce University.


“The Director of CTE and the EHS Co-Principals will lead us into the future, bringing the one campus together to benefit all students and increase learning opportunities,” added Cobb. “This new culture of leadership is exciting and transformative.”


Parks and Van Nostrand will officially start at EHS on July 1, 2020.




Connect With Your New Principals! 


With the current state of affairs and the Stay Home, Stay Safe order in effect, EHS is unable to host an in-person meet and greet with the new principals. Students, parents, and community members will have a chance to ask both questions for an upcoming video interview that will be shared publicly in the meantime. 

If you have a question that you would like to ask, please submit that to Essex Westford School District Communications Coordinator Ben Dickie ( by Tuesday, May 19.