Milton Town School District will welcome its new athletic director, former Milton Middle School principal Marcel Choquette, on August 8.
In a unanimous decision last Thursday, the three present board members offered the position to Choquette, the current Nordic Soccer Club director of operations, for his passion for athletics, range of experience and commitment to community, according to superintendent Amy Rex.
Choquette was offered a one-year contract and $84,500 salary, prorated to $76,050.
“One of the draws with Marcel is that he had both the athletic director’s experience but also the school administrator’s experience,” Rex said. “Being able to understand the role of a principal and also being able to work with them to support that program is going to be a really nice opportunity.”
The district re-opened the AD position this summer after Andrew Flaherty, a former Oxbow Union High School coach, abruptly resigned before he began work in Milton.
Choquette worked in both administrative and faculty roles in Vermont public schools over the past 30 years. His positions have ranged from coaching a multitude of sports to serving as physical education and health teacher at Missisquoi Valley Union High School and as the principal of Milton Middle School as well as Highgate Elementary School, his résumé shows.
He comes with collegiate experience as well, having served as head coach of the women’s soccer team at St. Michael’s College and athletic coach and administrative assistant at Lyndon State College.
According to Rex, Choquette’s commitment to the town of Milton set him apart from the pool of applicants.
“The others clearly demonstrated that passion to the work, but they couldn’t demonstrate an excitement for the community because it’s not their community,” she said. “Being a local person, [Choquette has] unbelievable commitment.”
In addition to serving as a MMS principal, Choquette has coached and taught soccer and soccer clinics for Milton youths and coaches and completed professional training in the school district.
“I’m thrilled to be back, working in my community, in our school and in the district where my youngest son goes to school,” Choquette said. His family has “significant ties” to the community, his wife a graduate of the district.
Choquette said his work as principal of the middle school would help with his new position.
“It’s going to expedite some of the work because the students who are currently freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are students that I had when I was working in the middle school,” he said. “That’s going to really expedite in terms of the relationship building.”
“He’ll be great boots on the ground in making connections with students and inspiring them to do their best and be involved,” Rex said.
She described his vision as one of the importance of the team, scholarship and community.
“He talked a lot about components of the athletic program in which the athletes are giving back to the community, and he talked about ways older athletes could be mentors running clinics with younger athletes,” she said.
Choquette said his “big umbrella idea” was to enhance the athletic experience for student athletes, coaches, parents and the community.
“I really believe that in this day and age parents and community members are integral parts of the experience,” he said, adding he looked forward to working with and getting to know folks both in and out of MTSD.
For board member Rae Couillard, Choquette’s experience was a key component of the board’s hiring decision. It helped separate him from the applicant pool Couillard said was somewhere between 20-25 people.
Choquette will hit the ground running when he enters the halls of MTSD.
“He’s not even really going to have much time to let things sink in before really needing to be in the face of the public,” Rex said. “He really will have to jump right in to the coaches meetings and then the student-athlete and parent meeting.”
“It’s going to be organized chaos,” Choquette said. He referenced his Wednesday, August 8 start date and the parent and student-athlete meeting he will host this evening. “I’m very very fortunate in that I believe I have a great support system around me.”
Interim AD Trevor Wagar said in an earlier interview with the Indy he will have a day or two of overlap with the new AD to discuss the position and help the new employee prepare for the job.
“I value programs and people for what they are,” Choquette said. “I’m really looking to take a strengths based approach to leadership, and employ strategies of listening to people and asking lots of questions before making any decisions.”