EXETER – The SAU 16 joint board is promoting Esther Asbell to be the district’s next superintendent, replacing David Ryan, who is leaving the 2022-23 school year.
The board on Monday voted to appoint Asbell to the top position. Asbell was Deputy Superintendent and then Deputy Superintendent of SAU 16 for more than 12 years and will take over the role of Superintendent on 1 July.
“I look forward to continuing to support all of the staff and our work in creating a student-centered learning environment where all students feel like they belong and their differences are valued,” Asbell said in a prepared statement.
Asbell has worked in K-12 education for more than two decades as a school counselor and administrator in a variety of leadership roles, including assistant principal and principal. Her work at SAU 16 began in 2004 when she served as a Middle School Counselor and later District Improvement Facilitator for the Exeter Region Cooperative School District until June 2006.
As Assistant Superintendent, Asbell is responsible for professional leadership development in creating a SAU-wide competency-based education system, overseeing school safety, social-emotional learning, leadership development, and providing curriculum, instruction, and assessment support.
The board determined that Asbell’s “skills, experience and leadership vision are closely aligned with the needs and priorities of SAU 16,” said Patrick O’Day, chairman of SAU 16’s joint board.
SAU 16 comprises 11 schools from pre-kindergarten to adult education in the cities of Exeter, Brentwood, Kensington, East Kingston, Newfields and Stratham. It is one of the largest school districts in New Hampshire with more than 4,000 enrolled students.
Previous story:SAU 16, Superintendent David Ryan is separating after the 2022-23 school year
Ryan will step down effective June 30, 2023. The joint board of directors of SAU 16 and Ryan announced in June that they “mutually agreed” not to renew his current contract.
The SAU 16 joint board established a superintendent search steering committee last summer, and the committee made the decision to review internal candidates for the position.
The committee solicited input from the SAU 16 community on key areas of focus for the district through an anonymous community survey and small discussion groups of students, teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, school administrators, and parent/community members. The results of this survey will be made publicly available on the SAU 16 website later this month.
Asbell holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University, Superintendent and Principal certifications from Plymouth State University, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education and a Masters of Science in Counselor Education from the University of Southern Maine, and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire. She serves on numerous boards, including the Executive Board of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association as President-elect and the National Association for Behavioral Interventions and Threat Assessment Advisory Board.