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AISD Board of Trustees Approves New Principal Appointments

Baranoff, Blanton, Brentwood and Small get new leaders

On Monday, Austin ISD's Board of Trustees approved new principal appointments for Baranoff, Blanton and Brentwood elementary schools and Small Middle School.

Small Middle School

The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Kenton (Matthew) Nelson to lead Small Middle School.

Nelson most recently served as Pease Elementary School's principal. In this role, he developed an intermediate enrichment and intervention schedule so all students had access to Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math activities, retained 100 percent of fifth-graders and led a coalition of elementary school principals in recruitment and community building activities.

He previously served as an assistant principal at O. Henry Middle School, a special education/athletics/advisory coordinator at O. Henry, a master teacher at Breakthrough Austin Collaborative and a special education teacher at Bedichek and Porter middle schools.

Nelson has a master's degree in educational administration from Concordia University and a bachelor’s degree in English and radio, television and film from the University of North Texas.

Baranoff Elementary School

The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Megan Counihan to lead Baranoff Elementary School.

Counihan most recently served as interim principal at Baranoff. In this role, she helped teachers become leaders by coaching them on effective instructional strategies and focusing on a strengths-based model. She also worked in partnership with the Baranoff Campus Advisory Committee and facility master plan to reduce overcrowding and worked with staff to order new technology and integrate it into lessons.

She previously served as an assistant principal at Baranoff, an English as a Second Language teacher and kindergarten team lead at Mills Elementary School, a special education teacher at Travis Heights Elementary School and a first grade teacher at Mills.

Counihan has a master's degree in educational administration from Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development at the University of Texas at Austin.

Blanton Elementary School

The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Dora Molina to lead Blanton Elementary School.

Molina recently served as interim principal at Blanton. In this role, she planned, implemented and supervised campus instructional programs; hired and coached teachers in instruction and classroom management; and managed the school budget. She also maintained a relationship with the community through forums and PTA meetings, and maintained campus disciplinary policies.

She previously served as principal at Burnet Middle School, principal at Blanton from 2009-12, assistant principal at T.A. Brown Elementary School and was a special education teacher at Pickle Elementary School.

Molina has a master's degree in education administration from Texas State University and a master’s degree in special education from the University of Utah.

Brentwood Elementary School

The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Amber Laroche to lead Brentwood Elementary School.

Laroche recently served as interim principal at Brentwood. In this role, she implemented systems to support academic progress, monitoring and feedback between campus programs. She also developed relationships with families and the community through events and created a gifted and talented parent committee to research, review and plan for improvement of current program services.

She previously served as assistant principal at McBee Elementary School, language arts coach at Walnut Creek Elementary School and ESL teacher at Sanchez and Ortega elementary schools. 

Laroche has a master's degree in education administration and a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from the University of Texas at Austin.