SAU #39 Appoints Stephanie Grund as Business Administrator, Porter Dodge as Director of Operations, and Bethany Bernasconi as Principal of Amherst Middle School

Amherst, NH – January 31, 2018 – Superintendent-Elect Adam Steel nominated Stephanie Grund to be the next Business Administrator for SAU #39 effective July 1, 2018 to replace him as he assumes the role of Superintendent of Schools.


Stephanie Grund is a long-time resident of Amherst with an extensive career in accounting and corporate finance. Prior to working for the SAU, she served as a member and chairperson of the Amherst School District Ways & Means Committee. She serves as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of America as a troop leader and the accounting coordinator for the towns of Amherst and Mont Vernon.

Adam Steel said, “Stephanie brings tremendous integrity, work ethic, and skill to the office. In working at the SAU in the business department for the past 18 months, she has proven herself to be one who puts children first in her decision-making and someone who keeps the interest of taxpayers in mind. Striking that balance does not come easily to everyone, and Stephanie has demonstrated a mastery of that ability. I’m excited to see Stephanie grow into this new role and the value she will bring to the position.”


In addition, Superintendent-Elect Steel nominated Porter Dodge to the newly formed part-time position of Director of Operations for SAU #39 effective July 1, 2018. Porter has been serving as the principal of Amherst Middle School for many years and was planning his retirement as principal in the next few years. Instead, Porter will oversee facilities, transportation, school nutrition services, and life  safety for all of the schools within the SAU on a part-time basis.

Regarding Dodge, Steel says, “Porter is a cornerstone of the Amherst and Mont Vernon communities. He is known to residents as a man who has a heart for children and for keeping them safe. In this new role, Porter will be able to leverage his experience and gifting in the operational aspects of school management to the other three schools with the SAU. There is nobody better to take on these duties- Porter will make all of our schools safer, more efficient, and better able to accomplish our core mission of educating students.”

Finally, with Porter Dodge moving to the SAU, Superintendent-Elect Steel appointed Bethany Bernasconi to replace Dodge as principal of Amherst Middle School, effective July 1, 2018. Dr. Bernasconi has been the Dean of Instruction at AMS for the past three years.

Bethany Bernasconi, Dean of Students, Amherst Middle School

Regarding Bernasconi, Steel says, “Bethany and I have worked together for many years. She is a true champion for children and a gifted leader. She pushes herself to be her best in a way that inspires those around her to be the best they can be. Because of who she is and her passion for kids, she will extend the good work of Porter Dodge and continue to make AMS a model middle school in New Hampshire. I am proud to nominate such a gifted leader.”

The SAU #39 Board approved the nominations of Stephanie Grund and Porter Dodge with a vote of 17-0 on January 29, 2018. The Amherst School Board voted to accept the resignation of Porter Dodge as Principal and to hire Bethany Bernasconi with a vote of 5-0. The Amherst School District will post the position vacated by Bernasconi for Assistant Principal at Amherst Middle School.

Adam Steel, Superintendent-Elect

Porter Dodge

Porter Dodge is currently the Principal of the Amherst Middle School. During his forty years as an educator, he has been a social studies teacher, curriculum coordinator, administrator, and coach. A three-sport athlete in high school, Porter played college baseball for four years. He earned his BS in History and MS in Educational Leadership and Management from Fitchburg State University. After college, he taught social studies and coached varsity football and basketball at Merryville High School in Louisiana. Later, he taught at Leominster High School in Massachusetts before joining the Amherst Middle School during the 1981-82 school year.

His years at AMS have been rewarding and fulfilling, with a true love for kids and learning. Before entering administration in 2000, he taught eighth grade social studies, coached Eagles basketball and baseball, Pop Warner Football, and coached the AMS Mock Trial Team to six State Championships. His wife Deborah is a Nursing Professor at Rivier University and retired Lt. Colonel in the US Army Nurse Corp. They moved to Amherst in 1991, and all three of their children attended Amherst schools and graduated from Souhegan High School.

Porter is passionate about student safety and security and is part of the SAU 39 Incident Command team. He has earned FEMA Emergency Management Certifications: Incident Command Systems ICS-100, National Incident Management NIMS-100, and Multi-Hazzard Emergency Planning for Schools.

He is a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, The New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS), Community Action for Safe Teens (CAST), Aurora Lodge AF& AM (Masons), and American Legion Post 361, Ashby, MA.

A disc jockey since 1980, he volunteered his services for fund raising for the Jimmy Fund (Dana Farber Institute), Center for Brain Injured Children, A Child’s Wish Come True, United Way, Melanoma Association, Cystic Fibrosis, Heart Fund, Special Olympics, and any others when the need arose. Passionate about Pankration, a Greek Mixed Martial Art, he has trained for almost 40 years and has written articles for, and appeared in, Martial Arts Magazines, including Black Belt, TaeKwonDo Times, Martial Arts Illustrated, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), and Fighting Stars.

Bethany Bernasconi

Bethany Bernasconi is the 2012 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year, a 2013 ASCD Emerging Leader, a 2014 Milken Fellow, and a 2017 School ReTool Fellow. After earning a BA in Biology and a MAT in Secondary Science Education, both from Boston University, she began teaching High School in 2004 in Lincoln-Sudbury, MA. In 2009, she helped to open the doors of Windham High School where she taught Biology and was the Director of Science and Engineering 6-12 for the Windham School District. She is currently the Dean of Instruction at the Amherst Middle School in New Hampshire and has served on the NH ASCD Board of Directors since 2013. In 2017, she completed her doctorate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment through Walden University. Her doctoral research focused on closing the gender achievement gap in STEM through building and implementing cognitive apprenticeships in secondary school communities of practice.