Guidance Director Heather Cronan is new to Winnacunnet this year, but she is no stranger to the faculty of the department she began leading this summer. As a matter of fact, her sister is guidance counselor Jennifer Francoeur, and her brother-in-law is gym teacher Larry Francoeur. Cronan was hired to replace longtime guidance director Leslie Dolleman after her retirement last year, and she previously worked in the Timberlane school district for 13 years.
“I have a master’s [degree] in mental health that I got from U.N.H. [The University of New Hampshire] back in 2007,” Cronan said. “My first job was a guidance counselor at Timberlane High School in Plaistow.”
Prior to coming to Winnacunnet, Cronan said she worked as an Assistant Principal at both the Timberlane middle and high schools up until last year.
“Someone recommended that I get into administration, so I got my C.A.G.S. in Educational Leadership through the University of New England, and I got a job as an Assistant Principal,” Cronan said.
According to Timberlane senior Maria Heim, Cronan was a positive and welcoming presence at the school.
“Mrs. Cronan was always someone who would academically lift me up, but would also make me smile in the hallways, and she could always tell when I was having a bad or a good day,” Heim said. “Winnacunnet students are really fortunate to have Mrs. Cronan in your admin.”
Cronan said she came to Winnacunnet, among other reasons, because she was looking for a change in her day-to-day roles. According to her, she grew tired of working with the same subset of the student population every day.
“I found myself not being able to get in to working with students who were doing really well, because my time was taken up by the kids who struggled and had challenges,” Cronan said of her time as an Assistant Principal. “When the Director of Guidance position opened up at Winnacunnet… I thought to myself, ‘That would be such a great option,’ because it would combine an administrative role with the counseling role.”
Cronan said she was offered the job before the COVID-19 pandemic, so she was able to work with outgoing Guidance Director Dolleman, a 38-year veteran of Winnacunnet, to begin planning the transition process in the Spring.
“Since I was working virtually from home at Timberlane, I was able to also join some of Winnacunnet’s administrative meetings in the spring, just to listen in and acclimate myself,” Cronan said. “This summer I did start to come into the office, which was also very helpful, as opposed to being at home.”
Cronan’s sister Jennifer Francoeur said that having her sister as her boss has worked out well so far. In fact, according to her, she encouraged her sister to pursue the position during the hiring process early this year.
“When the position was opened, I suggested she consider it because I knew it would be a great fit for her,” Jennifer Francoeur said. “As a whole, our guidance department is very close, so having my sister be a part of this group works well for us.”
Cronan also said she enjoys working alongside her sister in the guidance department.
“We get along great so far, but it’s only been a couple of weeks so we’ll see,” Cronan said. “I think when you have relationships with people, they tend to want to work with you and work harder for you, so I think it’s really all positive.”