Good ‘vibe’ sealed deal for new LRHS principal

     Erik Good Quick Facts Age: 43 Native of: Wyoming Family: Single; no children; two brothers and two sisters, all younger, spread out from Australia to Washington; most of my family is in the West. Hobbies: I like to be outside — swim, paddleboard, ski (although I don’t do it that much). I like to build things, play around with my landscaping. Where will you reside: I am temporarily on Crescent Lake in Raymond, but on Oct. 1, I will be moving temporarily, for the rest of the school year, to a different place in Raymond, on Sebago Lake. Favorite food: Being from Wyoming, my all-time favorite would be steak. I like food in general. Cooking is another hobby. Favorite author: As an English teacher, it is hard to name one. I certainly have my list of favorites — Shakespeare, Jane Austin, John Steinbeck. I think about the 10 books I would take if I were stranded on an island. Those are the authors I would want with me. Favorite musician (or type of music): It has rotated around. I grew up on Top 40 and Country was big. I hated Country until I moved from Wyoming. In Connecticut, I liked it for a while. My radio is generally tuned to NPR. I have a background in a cappella vocal performance, not professional. Favorite sports team: Atlanta Braves. My high school was blue and gold, so I feel right at home here at Lake Region. When I have free time, my favorite thing to do is… Read out in the sun. What does the A. stand for? Albert, which was my grandfather’s name.

A. Erik Good Quick Facts
Age: 43
Native of: Wyoming
Family: Single; no children; two brothers and two sisters, all younger, spread out from Australia to Washington; most of my family is in the West.
Hobbies: I like to be outside — swim, paddleboard, ski (although I don’t do it that much). I like to build things, play around with my landscaping.
Where will you reside: I am temporarily on Crescent Lake in Raymond, but on Oct. 1, I will be moving temporarily, for the rest of the school year, to a different place in Raymond, on Sebago Lake.
Favorite food: Being from Wyoming, my all-time favorite would be steak. I like food in general. Cooking is another hobby.
Favorite author: As an English teacher, it is hard to name one. I certainly have my list of favorites — Shakespeare, Jane Austin, John Steinbeck. I think about the 10 books I would take if I were stranded on an island. Those are the authors I would want with me.
Favorite musician (or type of music): It has rotated around. I grew up on Top 40 and Country was big. I hated Country until I moved from Wyoming. In Connecticut, I liked it for a while. My radio is generally tuned to NPR. I have a background in a cappella vocal performance, not professional.
Favorite sports team: Atlanta Braves. My high school was blue and gold, so I feel right at home here at Lake Region.
When I have free time, my favorite thing to do is… Read out in the sun.
What does the A. stand for? Albert, which was my grandfather’s name.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Erik Good had a variety of options when he was considering a job change.

He felt it was time to move from an urban school in New Haven, Connecticut to a more rural principal’s job.

But where?

A native of Wyoming, Good could easily have selected a principal’s job closer to his family, but he had a feeling Lake Region High School was the best fit.

“I was looking for a change. I applied to a lot of places. I knew Maine was doing proficiency-based work, which aligned well from where I was coming from. I have been coming to Maine the past 14 years to the Midcoast area. I like the geography and vibe here,” he said. “I applied (for jobs in) New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming and Colorado, closer to home. When I was done my interview (here), I knew it was the right one. Luckily enough, they felt the same way.”

Good was in Wyoming on vacation when he interviewed with SAD 61’s search committee.

“We did it electronically on Skype. I am not sure exactly what happened, but when the Skype connection opened, the first thing that happened was the whole group of people sitting at the conference table in the superintendent’s office all burst out laughing. It didn’t feel like it was aimed at me, clearly it was about something that happened before. But, I thought the fact that the team just laughed right up front made me feel immediately like I belonged,” he said. “I’ve always made decisions based on intuition. I knew when I saw the school, I knew it was the right one. Even though I was 2,000 miles away, the vibe I received over an iffy Skype connection told me Lake Region was the right one.”

Good’s mother, father and sister were disappointed that Good didn’t accept a job closer to home.

“I have nieces and nephews that are growing up way too fast and Wyoming will always be home to me,” he said. “But, I have to go where the universe calls me, and that is here — I am committed to this region until the universe calls to some place else. I was at my last school 16 years.

Good did call someone he knows that lives in Maine for some insight.

“He connected me with someone who did teach here (Lake Region). I knew the school went through a turnaround five years ago, and I know how demoralizing it can be for the staff and it creates a sense of urgency and push that can feel a little overwhelming,” he said.

He could relate, having experienced similar matters at the school in Connecticut.

In a recent interview with The News, Principal Good talked about his background, and why he feels Lake Region High School will be a good fit.

BN. Where did your interest in education come from? Who inspired you?

Good: In fourth grade, I used to play school and make up fill-in-the-blank history tests. Education was always something I thought about. I went to college to become an actor, but quickly discovered there wasn’t enough importance in that world to justify the politics and drama that’s involved in theater. I was going to write for awhile, but I didn’t have the self-discipline to make a living writing. I still like to write. I thought I might like to teach. After five years of knocking about after college, I went back, became certified in Connecticut and, from the first day, the first AP Literature class, Jane Austin, “Pride and Prejudice,” I knew that was what I wanted to do.

BN. What were the deciding factors?

Good: I am not the most extroverted guy, but for some reason, I connect with teenagers. There is something about them that I think is interesting and makes me feel ready to be supportive and to challenge them. I never anticipated I would be a principal. I thought I might go into teacher development down the road, which will be a focus of my leadership, the practice of making teaching better. It is fascinating the things that I read and the things I have seen. Seeing some of the directions education is going in, it gets me passionate. When we are talking about the lives of teenagers, we are talking about the lives of future citizens. Education is a tremendous place to make a really important contribution. The professionalism of educators is high on my agenda. I want people to feel that our teachers are valued, skilled professionals and have an important role to play.

BN. What has been your approach, style or philosophy regarding education?

Good: I have always been a bit of a rule-breaker in terms of just because something has been done a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean it is the way it needs to be done. I am always thinking of other ways to do something to get a better outcome. Systems may work well for awhile, but need to change.

Having worked for 15 years in a teacher led school, that really focused on empowering the teacher voice and student voice, I really believe bringing all those voices together and collaborate and plan to make the school work the way we want it to work. My title in Connecticut was “facilitator.” That really has to be the main job of a school leader — to figure out how to access the professionalism and wisdom of the staff, student and parents. Get all those things to work together.

BN. A former student said that you were “hard” but “students learned a lot.” Your thoughts?

Good: That is what I try to be. My expectations, I hope, are realistic and I am willing to offer the support that is needed to get there.

BN. What would you consider your greatest strength?

Good: Based on my feedback from the people I left behind in Connecticut and my first meetings here, I hope my greatest strength is the ability to empower people. I look, I listen, I gather information. I have a good sense about people. I develop a good understanding what people want, are afraid of and how to overcome those obstacles to reach their goals. It’s a people business, and I think I know how to help them move forward.

BN. What made you decide to pursue a more administrative role? What adjustments did you have to make moving from the role of teacher to administrator?

Good: It was really the context of the school. The current leader, who I was working with in an assistant role for six years, was leaving. At first, I wasn’t going to run for the position (it was an elected position) because it wasn’t something I thought I wanted to do, but a colleague, who I blame for everything, said “Are you crazy, it has to be you. You are the next in line.” For better or worse, she was right. I learned to love it. I miss the classroom. She saw something in me that I didn’t see. It is important for everyone to have those perspectives in their lives. People who offer feedback and suggestions where to go next. I try to do that for students and teachers. I certainly appreciate that someone did that for me, pushed me in a direction that led me here.

When I first assumed a leadership position, the first lesson I learned, there are always two sides to every story. It is important to have all of the information and not take one side of the story and base a decision on it. You are going to miss something and get yourself in hot water. It is my role to get as much information as I can in a timely way and make a call, and how we move forward. It’s not about blame, it’s about moving forward.

BN. What did you enjoy about your previous school, and what do you believe were your major accomplishments there?

Good: The kids, especially those who weren’t successful in school, watching them change slowly. It was an urban school. There were some very tough cases. You felt your were accomplishing things with those kids. I am sure it will be the same here, once I get to know the kids and get a sense of where they need to go and how I can help them get there.

I am proud — which is why I believe I am a good fit for this position — of how we moved to a “mastery” based diploma (in Connecticut, here in Maine, it is “proficiency” based). We had an opportunity to pursue it, which we felt would result in a better outcome for kids. The school has a long way to go, but I think the direction is right. It was time for someone to step in and move it to the next step. We were moving student outcomes in the direction we hoped.

BN. What will be some of your early objectives?

Good: A proficiency-based diploma is big on everyone’s mind, so we’ll develop goals with that in mind. Always, how to engage our stakeholders — all four towns — to be invested in what is happening here. I want to hear what students have to say about changes they would like to see here.

BN. Students and parents may wonder, “What is the new principal like?” How would you answer that question?

Good: I’ve heard from our receptionist that she has been asked if I am nice? I asked her if her answer is yes or no? They are going to have to find out what I am like. I’ll be spending time with students, asking them what they want from their principal, and then talk about who I know myself to be and set some goals where we want to go. There is a balance I need to find. Am I nice, sure. Am I demanding, yes. I am all of those things. We all need to find the right balance so we can move ahead. It will be interesting after a year about what I am like.

 

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