Andy Johnson, Liz Noonan

BFA Fairfax teacher Liz Noonan, left, and Andy Johnson, pictured here with his family, are finalists for the principalship at BFA Fairfax.

FAIRFAX — The race isn’t over yet, but the BFA Fairfax principal search committee has narrowed its search down to two candidates for the principalship at BFA Fairfax: Wisconsin’s Andy Johnson, and BFA Fairfax’s longtime social studies and government teacher, Liz Noonan.

The two educators bring varied backgrounds to the table. Noonan has a background of government, civics and social studies, while Johnson is a longtime music educator.

A forum will be hosted for the Fairfax community to get to know both candidates and to share questions and feedback on Tuesday, May 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Johnson has a longtime passion for music and 17 years experience in education.

“Music was my safe haven as a child,” Johnson said. “It was a place I could express myself and I wanted to open that up to students who maybe didn’t excel on their instrument, but had something important to say through music.”

Johnson holds a Bachelors of Arts in Music Education and a Master’s in Music, and taught for one year at Williamstown Middle and High School in Williamstown.

He’s been the orchestral and music teacher for six years at Jefferson Middle School and Madison Memorial High School in Wisconsin’s capital, and has taught music at Hamilton Middle School in Madison since 2018.

“I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and actually wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left high school,” Johnson said. “My second year in college by cello professor, Uri Vardi, suggested I look into the music education program. Once I got into the classroom and became acquainted with some of the amazing music educators in the area, I was hooked.”

While his wife Mary is from northern New York originally, Johnson said frequent family adventures throughout New England and New York have nurtured their affinities for mountain biking, hiking and enjoying the region’s nature.

But Johnson said it was the staff, students, parents, and administration at BFA Fairfax in particular that charmed them with their welcome and clear appreciation for their community, opportunities, and small school atmospheres.

“I would be honored to help facilitate the growth of the school and help all students reach their personal goals,” Johnson said.

Noonan first came to Vermont with her future husband, a UVM graduate. She fell in love with Vermont, Vermonters, and Vermont schools too.

“I said to myself ‘I’m coming back here with or without him,’” Noonan said laughing.

Noonan has a master’s degree in administration and supervision, a Master’s of Education in Art in Teaching, a bachelor’s degree in science and is currently pursuing a PhD in education.

In addition to her extensive educational repertoire, Noonan also brings a passion for healing the gap between high school and continuing education, certification and training, and is focusing her doctoral thesis on that process.

“We all know that we graduate high school without all the skills we really need,” Noonan said. “And we have all of these opportunities for kids, and they might not even know that.”

Noonan also teaches AP psychology and sociology through Community College of Vermont, and has also taught at tech centers in her 11 years of teaching.

But she always dreamed she would one day be in a leadership position, and after falling in love with the community of Fairfax in her three years at BFA, Noonan said the open position was a “no-brainer” and called the principalship a “dream job.”

“I know the school, I know all of our wonderful strengths,” Noonan said. “I know some of the challenges we are facing right now, and coming into the school with that background is not another year of transition. Moving our community forward after a time when we have slowed down.”

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