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North Stonington — Wheeler High School/Middle School Principal Christopher Sandford announced at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting that he will leave the school district after Thanksgiving break.
Sandford has accepted a position as headmaster at the co-ed, independent Woodstock Academy, whose board of trustees voted Tuesday night to appoint him.
Sandford said taking the new job was a difficult decision to make, and his departure will be "completely bittersweet."
"When I informed the staff … it was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done," he said. "I couldn't look at anyone; I looked at the floor."
Sandford has been at Wheeler for nearly six years, starting as an assistant principal for two years and then moving up to become principal. Before that, he was a teacher and department head at East Lyme High School.
Superintendent Peter Nero said he is disappointed about Sandford's departure.
"I don't want to lose the guy, but I know he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him," he said. "I can't say enough about him as an administrator and as a person."
Nero said he will bring in an interim principal for the rest of the school year and has a candidate in mind to announce at a Board of Education meeting in October.
In February or March, Nero said he will begin the process of advertising the principal position and putting together an interview committee, with the goal of hiring someone by May with a July 1 start date.