A Person of Principles

Kaia Levey, Editor

Harwood Union’s high school principal, Lisa Atwood, will be retiring after 33 years of teaching in our district. As of June 30th, Mrs. Atwood will be officially retired from 14 years of working as an administrator. She describes her retirement as “bittersweet and a little scary” as she prepares to leave Harwood in new hands.

Mrs. Atwood has worked since she was 15 years old and has known since high school that she wanted to be in education. She expresses how fortunate she is to have been either teaching or coaching since she was in college. “I feel blessed this district has been really really good to me and my family and I’m going to miss it,”

1990 Harwood Yearbook (PE Staff)

said Mrs. Atwood.

Mrs. Atwood was originally hired at Harwood in 1987 for a temporary Physical Education teacher position. The
following year she started as a long term sub which turned into a full-time job working as a health and physical education teacher. She also taught the course “life skills” and did a six-week long outdoor adventure program with all seventh and eighth graders involving Harwood’s old ropes course. After ten years at Harwood, she moved to the newly built Crossett Brook School in 1997, where she continued to work as at P.E and health teacher. Mrs. Atwood returned to Harwood in 2006 and started her new role as a middle school administrator.

“Mr. Pierson and I have switched roles, when I came on as the middle school administrator, he was the high school principal and now its reversed,” she said.

Mrs. Atwood’s role as an administrator can be 12 to 14 hour days and a 24/7 responsibility. The only aspect of her job she won’t miss is the late night and early morning work.
“But I really love what I do, I’m gonna miss the kids, we have a tremendous faculty and we have an amazing student body, so I’m really going to miss that. I think that will be a really hard transition for me,” said Mrs. Atwood.

Mrs. Atwood describes herself as always being the ”black and gold” but is looking forward to having more choices in her work. She looks forward to spending more time with her family, volunteering, and pursuing opportunities to work part-time.

“It’s time for new energy and new blood and I really want Harwood to be in good standing and whoever comes in my place I wish them nothing but the best and I wish great things for Harwood cause we are a pretty darn good school,” said Mrs. Atwood.

This year Mrs. Atwood continues the work on supporting staff with proficiency-based learning as well as preparing a budget for next year. Although she was hoping to see a bond before her retirement she now hopes to see a bond shortly after she retires.

“I know it’s been difficult with the redesign conversations and planning but it’s not what I think our kids and staff deserve it’s really about what I know they need to continue to offer tremendous opportunities for learning and to also attract the students that want to be here.”
This is very important to Mrs. Atwood and she wants to help this process as much as she can.

One of the things that Mrs. Atwood has learned from her years at Harwood by working as an administrator is to never forget where she came from. Her early role as a teacher gives her perspective that she applies to her job as principal. Before making big decisions Mrs. Atwood always asks the questions; how will this impact staff and what’s the impact on the students?

Another thing Mrs. Atwood has learned is “that you sometimes have to take a step back and take a breath and not be reactive.” She believes the most important part of her job are the relationships.
“You can not be an effective leader and do this work if you don’t take the time to build the relationships’ and that’s at every level,” said Mrs. Atwood.

“Sometimes as a principal, I feel so far removed from students,” she said. It’s important to build those relationships to take the time to get to know the students and staff because in order to support them you need to understand who they are and what they’re about.”

Mrs. Atwood says she has never felt alone as a principal because of how lucky she is to be surrounded by such an amazing team.

“I learn something every day. I’m always learning. You need to be able to own it when you do make a mistake, and people respect that. You do the best to try to correct it because we’re human and we are all in it together.” Mrs. Atwood believes that the human side of work and the relationships are her strong


“It’s gonna be very emotional leaving, for sure. I just wish nothing but the best for the future of Harwood for those that are going to be here either as teachers and staff or as students. It’s always been a good place for me and I just hope that continues for those that are here,” said Atwood.

Harwood Union will be hiring two new administrators for the leadersh

ip positions Lisa Atwood and Sam Krotinger have held.

“I have confidence that we will hire well and will not settle,” said Mrs. Atwood.