Michael E. Friel
Oak Grove School
Windham Southeast Supervisory Union
Brattleboro, Vermont

Michael E. FrielMichael Friel has unified a school after sweeping changes in his position as principal of Oak Grove School. When Friel began serving at the small-town institution in 2002, the school board had just reorganized it from a grades 3–6 school to a K-6 school. Half of the student population and 40 percent of the staff were new that year. So he held a series of forums involving school staff members, parents, community members, school board members, and students. “This process gave all stakeholders a say in what the new Oak Grove School would look like,” says Friel. The process also enabled Friel and the community to develop Oak Grove’s mission. Focusing on the holistic development of children, it serves as the school’s foundation today. With 160 students now, Oak Grove School has a vital parent organization that supports families’ involvement in their children’s schooling. Over his 25 years as a principal, Friel has led three schools. During his previous principalship at Guilford Central School in Vermont, the site received honors from the Vermont Business Roundtable as a Gold Medallion winner. Friel’s career accomplishments include his contributions during a weeklong seminar in China in 1994. He was among six educators who presented as part of the University of Vermont’s Asian studies outreach program. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont.