Todd Finn (M.S.A, BSci Hist/ Sec Ed) is the principal at Mill River Union High School, specializing in the personalized learning initiative and transformational change for improved school culture and student success. Mr. Finn holds a Masters Degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina, and two Bachelor’s Degrees from Fitchburg State University (Massachusetts).
A decorated U.S. Army combat veteran and former collegiate basketball player from Hopedale, Massachusetts, Finn began his teaching career at Coyle and Cassidy preparatory high school where he also began coaching high school basketball. He later taught in a special education classroom at Saint Vincent’s School In Fall River, Massachusetts, when he simultaneously joined the coaching staff at Johnson & Wales University as an assistant coach. Finn became the Head Men’s Coach at JWU in 2001. Recruiting, team building, and preparation resulted in two conference finals, two championships, and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Finn re-established himself as a high school educator in 2005 in Hope Mills, North Carolina. Teaching social studies at every ability level from Exceptional Students to Advanced Placement, Finn became a master of differentiated instruction while exploring personalized learning as a unique way of partnering with students in his classroom. He re-emerged as a high school basketball and assistant football coach in the Tar Heel State while at Gray’s Creek High School. He was promoted to the position of Assistant Principal in Fayetteville, NC, where he became part of a team that turned EE Smith High School around from one of the lowest performing schools in the state to a recognized school of excellence within just three years.
Finn began his first principalship at West Bladen High School in 2010, applying the coaching, teaching, and leadership experiences he acquired in his past to invigorate a staff that teamed up and witnessed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the state of North Carolina. Rural West Bladen became the jewel of Bladen County, and Finn was immediately recruited to lead a similar effort at an urban high school in Wilmington, NC. After his first year at New Hanover High School he was named the North Carolina PTSA Educator of the year. After year two NHHS became the top destination school for open choice registrations, an anomaly for an urban high school in that location. Featured in the award-winning documentary “The American Graduate” produced by UNCTV, Finn’s approach to a student-centered school environment led to a marked decrease in school violence and dropouts. Newsweek recognized New Hanover High School as one of the nation’s top public high schools in 2013. During his third year, Finn departed New Hanover as he was recruited to build the new Hampton High School in Metro-Atlanta / Henry County, Georgia.
Finn introduced the personalized learning initiative to a brand new staff and community, while simultaneously rolling out an unprecedented one to one technology approach in partnership with Lenovo. Hampton High School became the recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Next Generation Grant, and presented at the Southern Regional Education Board national conference in Atlanta at the end of the inaugural school year in the summer of 2015.
Entering his second year at the premier personalized learning high school in Georgia, Mr. Finn’s student enrollment and staff increased by 25 percent, while 100 percent of the Hampton High School community focused on personalized learning through learner profiles, competency based instruction, flexible pacing, project based learning, and developing real-world 21st Century Skills through the use of technology to enhance great teaching. Finn’s philosophy of school improvement through shared experience, promoted his “pay it forward” initiative, inviting schools nationwide to visit and interact with the Hampton High School community on a regular basis. Mill River Union Unified School District visited Hampton High School in 2015, and Mr. Finn eventually agreed to leave Metro-Atlanta in order to come back home to New England, leading MRUHS beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.
Mr. Finn has been featured in several leadership publications, to include Built to Lead, Short on Time, and Inspiring Creators, as well as Pearson’s Personalized Learning Pioneer. He has been a featured presenter in national webinars, consulted with urban districts nationwide, and has been a featured panelist in closing the achievement gap consortiums in the Southeast.
Mr. Finn believes in cultivating a positive school climate and culture, growing leaders from within, and the power of school spirit in the community. He is currently pursuing his Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership, with an expected completion date of May 2020. He also teaches two classes at Mill River Union High School.