New Board President Assists In LI Head of School Transition

Head of School, Twiladawn Perry (left) with Board President, Loralee Tester. (Contributed photo)

Twenty-five years after her own graduation from Lyndon Institute, new Board of Trustees President Loralee Tester has been at the forefront of welcoming the 21st Head of School, Dr. Brian Bloomfield, to the community.

The transition from the 20th to the 21st Head of School this coming summer will be one orchestrated not only by Tester but by the Board and school community as a whole.

“Loralee and I meet on a regular basis and coordinate the information being shared with Dr. Bloomfield,” says current Head of School Twiladawn Perry. Tester adds, “I couldn’t be prouder of my fellow board members in hiring Dr. Bloomfield. We are at a time and place where education and expectations are being transformed. We are now ready to embrace Dr. Bloomfield’s leadership as he brings new strengths and experience to our school and region.”

Dr. Bloomfield has already made several trips to LI since the announcement of his hiring including Spirit Week and Open House where he addressed prospective 8th-grade students and their families.

“Our number one goal is ensuring the successful transition,” says Tester. “During the application and interview process, there were numerous instances where the search committee thought ‘aha… that’s just what we need!’ or ‘Wow, he really seems to understand who we are.’ One gentleman I contacted as a reference described Dr. Bloomfield as the leader he wanted to be.”

Both Tester and her husband, Shawn, are LI alum. Reflecting on her own experience at Lyndon, she attributes her opportunity to attend Boston University on a full scholarship to the education she received as a student. Now, her son gets to have the same opportunities as a freshman. “It has brought me joy and satisfaction to watch my son come home with a smile on his face, challenged daily in what he is learning.”

Though Tester is excited for Dr. Bloomfield’s leadership, she’s grateful for the job Perry, herself an alum of the Class of 1977, has done since assuming the role as Head of School five years ago. “Twila has seen the school through some incredible challenges.”

Over the course of Perry’s time at LI—from student to faculty member to Director of Specialized Instruction to Director of Career and Technical Education to Assistant Head of Academic Affairs to, finally, Head of School—Perry has seen the school undergo a continuous transformation. When Perry first assumed the position of Head in 2018, her goal was to financially stabilize the school. As she prepares to retire this coming June, she finds LI on solid financial ground for the foreseeable future. “A strategic financial plan has been developed with the Board allowing them to plan for the next 10 years. We have also completed the process of a broader strategic plan to help guide the school into the future,” she says.

Over the past several years, Perry has spearheaded various initiatives both on and off Lyndon Institute’s campus: facility upgrades including twelve remodeled classrooms, restoration of several buildings as well as the main building’s iconic belltower, the inception of Project Bike Tech and the Outdoor Recreation program, an expansion of Allied Health, the development of ancillary programs, the addition of boys and girls lacrosse teams, a new alumni gymnasium floor, and plans for a new entryway on the Pierce Wing through fundraising efforts.

Reflecting on her thirty-nine years of service to the school, Perry credits her time working under Dwight Davis as life-changing. “As a mentor, he gave me the confidence to develop my leadership skills. Then, working as the Career and Technical Education director, I came to understand that our CTE students needed the same skills as our college prep students as they moved into the workforce.” Looking ahead to the future, Perry comments, “In July, Dr. Bloomfield should have a school with a balanced budget and a steady enrollment to work with. As Board Chair, Loralee should not have significant short-term issues but can focus on the more interesting, long-term issues of the school.”

As for her personal life, Perry plans to travel with her husband, Jack, who retired after twenty-seven years at Lyndon Institute. Perry hopes to be able to spend more time with her granddaughter and is interested in exploring new interests and opportunities as they arise. She’ll continue to reside in Lyndonville and anticipates attending alumni events and Spirit Week festivities. While she will remain part of this community, Perry says she will miss her daily interaction with LI’s students, staff, board members, and alumni the most. “I have met so many wonderful people and truly appreciate my relationships with the individuals who make up the LI community. If I could give advice to my successor, Dr. Bloomfield, it would be to take your time to get to know the people and the community. As for the young people and students in this area, my advice to you is to go out and see the world, but remember you can return to the area and have a good career, family, and life. Sometimes the money you can earn elsewhere is not worth giving up the lifestyle you can have living here.”

Tester continues to extend her and the entire Board’s gratitude and well wishes to Perry for her many years of dedication and service. “We know that her work in supporting the people of the Northeast Kingdom is not ending, but a new chapter is beginning. I am grateful to the Board’s deep commitment to ensuring Twila’s legacy is continued by Brian. As a Board, we promise to support him in every way as he leads the school into the future.”

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