2013-04-26 / Front Page

High school principal search marches on

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

As school districts in Biddeford and South Portland begin to transition to new high school principals, the Scarborough School District is still looking for a replacement for Scarborough High School Principal Dean Auriemma, who resigned in early February.

Pleasant Hill Primary School Principal Kelly Mullen-Martin, who is coleading the search with Scarborough Middle School Principal Barbara Hathorn, said Scarborough is well on the way toward hiring Auriemma’s successor.

Auriemma was hired in July 2010 after the contract of Patricia Conant was not renewed by the Scarborough Board of Education.

“We are moving steadily along. We have advertised and received (15 to 20) applications,” Mullen- Martin wrote in an email to the Leader. “We are in the process of identifying candidates for initial interviews in the upcoming weeks.”

While she and Hathorn are leading the effort, Mullen- Martin indicated many members of the district’s educational community have voiced their opinion on what they were looking for in a candidate.

“We have surveyed staff, students and parents in order to gain input about critical characteristics for the interview team to prioritize. The survey is still active and we will be analyzing the results this week,” Mullen-Martin wrote in her April 22 email.

The initial interviews are just the beginning of the hiring process, Mullen- Martin explained.

“We have a multi-stepped process laid out beyond the initial interviews involving secondary interviews and more extensive opportunities for stakeholder involvement,” she continued.

Mullen-Martin hopes to have the position filled by mid-May.

As the Scarborough school districts sifts through the applications, two other school districts — South Portland and Biddeford — have already hired new faces for their high school principal vacancies.

On April 9, the Biddeford Board of Education hired Jeremie Sirois to replace Britton Wolfe, who resigned from the high school principal position in February. The previous day — Monday, April 8, — the South Portland Board of Education hired Ryan Caron, the principal at Sacopee Valley High School.

“We were looking for someone who could connect well with staff and students, someone who could push the shared leadership model, someone who had great relationship-building skills, someone who was personable and who had a lot of energy,” said Jeremy Ray, Biddeford School Superintendent.

Ray said he knew since both South Portland and Scarborough school districts were also looking for high school principals due to resignations, Biddeford needed to be proactive in its search.

“We wanted to be out in front of the other school districts,” Ray said. “Once we closed our application process, we aggressively went after candidates to interview. We didn’t want to be in a situation where we would be competing with the other school departments.”

Sirois, a 1994 graduate of Thornton Academy said he was excited to work in Biddeford, where he lives with his wife, Laureen and their two young children. Sirois is currently working as an assistant principal at York High School.

“Being able to have an impact on their education was attractive to me,” said Sirois, whose wife works as an occupational therapist at Biddeford Primary School.

Caron, who grew up in Ashland, a small town in Aroostook County, said he was excited to work in a school district known for its progressive approach to education. He has served as principal at Sacopee Valley High School for the past three years and worked as an assistant principal at the school previously.

“Through the education circle, South Portland is known to be progressive in terms of education. They are into trying new things,” Caron said.

Prior to getting into high school administration six years ago, Caron worked as a social studies teacher in the Windham School district. He said many of his colleagues at the time had previously worked or coached in South Portland.

“This seemed like an opportunity to push my education vision forward and continue some of the things they have been doing,” said Caron. “The history of progressiveness was a draw. When the position opened, several people who knew me reached out to me about it being a fit.”

Starting in a school that is under renovation and construction is not a concern for Caron.

He said he was at Windham High School when it was being renovated and soon saw the “positive impact (the new school) had on the students, staff and the community.”

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