Meet Brett Blanchard - JRCSD Middle/High Principal

July brings us beach days, vacations and, this year, Brett Blanchard who has officially started work as the new principal of Jaffrey-Rindge Middle and High Schools.  “I could not be more excited to work with the students here. It is the most important job in the world!”

Brett is the middle of three children. His parents, both Vermont natives, were high school sweethearts and recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Brett’s wife, Elpi Blanchard, is a  nuclear engineer. She taught nuclear physics for the Navy in Portsmouth, NH. Now Elpi teaches science at a high school in Vermont. Brett and Elpi have three children Britton, Arianna and Bruce.

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Britton recently graduated from the University of Vermont  with a major in art and a minor in business. Arianna is a sophomore at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She studies chemistry, Spanish and plays rugby. During studies in Bolivia, Arianna became fluent in Spanish and was selected to translate for Operation Walk, an American nonprofit that provides hip and knee replacements.

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Brett and Elpi’s youngest son, Bruce Chase, is a senior at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont. He plays football and basketball and is a sports trivia aficionado. Brett half jokes that Bruce has a future in broadcasting. The Blanchard family would not be complete without pet Mastiffs Ragnar and Ivar.

Brett was encouraged by his mother to pursue a teaching degree in conjunction with his Philosophy degree from Westminster College. After graduation he lived and worked around the country. While in New Mexico he received a call about a job opportunity for The Woodhall School in Connecticut. The Woodhall School is a nontraditional school for boys. Brett committed to The Woodhall School beginning both his career in education and his passion for realizing student potential.

During Brett’s time at The Woodhall School he successfully built an athletic program, basketball court and soccer field. In the early 90’s he moved to Vermont taking a position with the Poultney Junior and Senior High School as a Social Studies teacher, football and track coach. Brett became Poultney’s Dean of Students where he began the all-important task of building positive school culture through daily interactions with students.

In 2007 Fair Haven Union High School in Vermont asked Brett to apply for the principal position. Brett applied and has spent the last 11 years dedicated to positive cultural  and community transformation. He began transformation through amplifying student voice. Students were on every meaningful committee including hiring. Students revamped the cafeteria, library and food system, developed clubs and ran student assemblies.

Despite the school’s forty-eight percent free and reduced lunch rate students, faculty and staff persevered to equip the school with a  modern fitness center, media center and expanded arts programs. Health and fitness became a focus as it directly correlates to student performance.

Amplifying student voice paid off. Fair Haven Union High School transformed from one of the lowest ranked schools in 2007-08 to a US News and World Report’s consistently top-ranked high schools in Vermont. Reflecting further Brett said: “We created more meaningful student opportunities. We drove increased skills and performance through student interest and opportunity.” He pointed out, “Teachers rose to the occasion to offer students more opportunity to excel academically through a variety of ways.”

Brett brings decades of experience encouraging youth to share their voice and empowering staff to provide interest-based learning opportunities for students. “I believe in striving for excellence. I believe in providing students every opportunity to learn. Let’s work together to provide new opportunities for students.”

Kimberly Sychterz