By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Students at North Andover Middle School are now addressing their principal as Dr. McQuade.
Joan McQuade, who has led the school for almost 10 years, completed her dissertation and earned a PhD with a specialty in educational leadership at Lesley University during the summer. Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson announced her achievement at the Sept. 12 School Committee meeting.
McQuade was calm and cool while defending her dissertation, titled “The Social Intelligence of Principals: Links to Teachers’ Continued Improvement,” Hutchinson said.
Although McQuade has risen to a high position in her field, both professionally and academically, she did not always aspire to be a teacher, she told The Eagle-Tribune recently. She earned a bachelor of science degree at Western Illinois University and initially planned to work with children suffering from eating disorders.
That didn’t happen and she headed for Vail, Colo., not really sure about what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She worked in food services at Rocky Mountain National Park, she said, and did a lot of skiing.
In Colorado, she met her husband, Mark McQuade, of Manchester, N.H., whose family used to run a chain of clothing stores. She ended up moving to New Hampshire.
McQuade comes from a long line of teachers, she said, and she eventually decided, “Maybe I should just dabble in teaching.” The “dabbling” turned into a career. She earned a master of arts in teaching at Rivier College and was principal of a middle school in Manchester before she was hired for her present position.
Now that she has earned a doctorate, she was asked, what’s the next step? Becoming a superintendent?
“I really don’t know what this will bring,” she said. For now, she’s immersed in the challenge of running a school with about 1,200 students.
“I have a personal passion for learning and I love kids,” she said when asked what has kept her in the teaching profession. She also enjoys “helping my teachers learn,” she said.