'Excited to be here': Ryan McCluskey named new principal of Exeter's Lincoln School

·3 min read

EXETER — Ryan McCluskey has been named the new principal of Lincoln Street School.

The Exeter School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint McCluskey to the position after a public interview.

McCluskey will replace current Principal Drew Bairstow, who will be assuming a new role in SAU 16 July 1 as principal of the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham.

Ryan McCluskey
Ryan McCluskey

“I’m really excited to be here,” said McCluskey, an Exeter resident of eight years. “This is a very unique opportunity. A unique opportunity to do the work that I’m so passionate about in the community that I live in and that unique opportunity to have a direct impact within my family, which couldn’t be replicated anywhere else.”

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McCluskey has been the principal of Memorial Elementary School in Newton since 2018 and served as the assistant principal at Sanborn Regional Middle School in the same school district from 2017 to 2018.

McCluskey was previously a language arts teacher for sixth- and eighth-grade students at Timberlane Regional Middle School in Plaistow for 11 years.

As a leader, he said it is important to “recognize and validate the really great work that is happening” at the school.  As an educator, McCluskey believes that each student deserves the various basic needs such as social, emotional and physical support in order to access their full potential as a “whole learner.”

“Under my leadership, Lincoln Street School will continue to work hard to meet the needs of staff and students, allowing all learners to have the opportunity to access and engage in meaningful learning experiences that allow the whole child to grow and reach their collective potential,” he told the School Board.

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Exeter School Board Chair Dawn Bullens questioned McCluskey regarding his ability to separate his personal and professional life as both a town resident and education leader, claiming that it has been a “challenge” for some in the past.

“I was extremely mindful and thoughtful of that before applying for this position,” said McCluskey. “I do think that I have a good sense on how to balance the two (personal and professional). It’s inevitable (that I run into other parents outside of school), but truthfully, I haven’t had anyone overstep those boundaries.”

Board member Patrick O’Day asked McCluskey about what he sees as challenges in the position.

McCluskey said the biggest challenge at Lincoln Street School will be facilitating the various components of the school's needs. He said he will use the first 100 days to focus on knowing the school - its staff, students as well as their parents.

“One of the challenges anytime that you enter a new district is making sure you know your staff, student community and their parents,” said McCluskey. “You really have to invest some equity into learning those pieces."

McCluskey earned his degree in education from Elmira College in New York and his Master of Arts in English at Rivier University in Nashua. He holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in educational leadership which he attained from Plymouth State University.

As a family man, McCluskey lives locally with his wife, Erica, a science teacher at Timberlane Middle School, and their two boys, Liam and Evan.

“For those that know me, they’ll know how important family is to me,” said McCluskey. “They’ll also know how important the community is to me, they drive a lot of what I do.”

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Ryan McCluskey named new principal of Exeter NH Lincoln School