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In a letter dated January 17, 2023, longtime Crossett Brook Middle School (CBMS) principal Tom Drake announced he would be stepping down at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. He wrote, “It is with very mixed emotions that I am announcing that this will be my last year in the principal position at Crossett Brook Middle School. I will be completing the school year, and 'graduating' with our eighth graders in June. Fourteen years as a public school administrator is a long time to be in one school, and I have had the distinct and deep feeling of late that it is time that CBMS has a fresh administration, with a new voice and perspective on middle level education. . . I will remain fully committed to the HUUSD and to CBMS for the second half of this school year -- Cougars on 3 . . .always!”


It wasn’t long before the district announced his replacement. On Friday, January 27, Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter wrote to the HUUSD community, “It is my pleasure to inform you that Mr. Duane Pierson will be recommended to the Harwood Unified Union School Board to succeed Mr. Tom Drake as the new principal of Crossett Brook Middle School effective July 1, 2023. Mr. Pierson has successfully filled a number of important administrative positions during his 20 years in the school district including periods of time as an administrator at both Harwood Union Middle/High School and Moretown Elementary School.” Most recently, Pierson has served as assistant principal at Harwood.

The assistant principal position at CBMS is currently vacant after a newly-hired assistant principal left the position only two months into this school year. “Due to the administrative shortage in the state of Vermont, a long-term individual in an assistant principal position has been difficult to maintain for a number of years,” wrote Leichliter. “In consideration of that fact, Mr. Pierson has requested to serve as a co-principal in order to attract an outstanding candidate that would then share administrative responsibilities. The district is in the process of advertising the position and establishing a search committee with representation from school board members, students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators. The co-principal position will be posted in the next few days with the goal of identifying a finalist by the end of March.”

The district is also expected to post the job description for Pierson’s current role as assistant principal at Harwood in the coming days.