Principal Finn leaving Lake Region to take Gray-NG job

SPEAKING AT GRADUATION Principal Ted Finn who is now moving on to Gray-New Gloucester High School this fall. (Rivet Photo)

SPEAKING AT GRADUATION Principal Ted Finn who is now moving on to Gray-New Gloucester High School this fall. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

As principal, Ted Finn led Lake Region High School through some tough times over the past five years.

Low test scores landed the school on the state’s “failing” list prior to his arrival. Through a reshaping of the curriculum and other improvements, Lake Region was deemed a “model school” by Maine’s education commissioner.

The facility underwent a major renovation project, yet educational improvements continued to gain momentum despite the construction chaos surrounding building.

With significant educational and facility remodeling complete, Finn will turn over the leadership reins to someone else.

Finn is leaving Lake Region for the principal’s job at Gray-New Gloucester High School. He announced the move in a July 3 post on the Lake Region H.S. website page.

“Hey Lakers! Shortly after the 2014-2015 school year came to an end, I received word that a high school less than 30 minutes away from my home was looking for a new principal,” he wrote. “As much as I have appreciated and enjoyed my time as principal of Lake Region High School, driving almost 2.5 hours every day has taken its toll, and not just on my vehicle.”

Finn added, “I don’t know where the past five years have gone, but I would like to take this opportunity to review what I would consider to be the most significant accomplishments that WE did together over these past five years.”

Finn’s list included:

  • Raised the graduation rate and decreased the dropout rate.
  • Adopted the 21st century learning framework as a major cornerstone for our required school transformation between 2010-2014 which promotes critical thinking; problem solving; tech integration; effective communication; creativity; and collaboration.
  • A visit from the Commissioner of Education (Steve Bowen) in the spring of 2013 who acknowledged that although Lake Region High School was identified as a “low performing school” back in 2010, it was clear to him and the Department of Education that LRHS had done a 180 and should be recognized as a “performing school and an example for other high schools to follow.”
  • Successfully completed a $14 million renovation project of the high school and vocational center.
  • Expanded the alternative education program to service grades 11 and 12.
  • Created the position of Student Advocate which has evolved into the Academic Supports Coordinator.  This position oversees the work being done through RTI, 504, and BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks).
  • Created/implemented the Academy structure (with 14 options for students to pick from) designed to support the 21st century learning framework while providing students the opportunity to explore their passions and interests while developing those critical 21st century skills to be college and/or career ready.
  • Created Freshmen and Sophomore Teams that allow for stronger communication between the school and home. These teams also allow for common planning and stronger collaboration between the various content areas as well as a stronger level of support/intervention between the teams, students, parents, Guidance, and the Administration.
  • Reduced the number of office referrals, suspensions and expulsions.
  • Strengthened the relationship/partnership between LRHS and the LRVC.
  • Increased off-campus student learning opportunities through public and private colleges as well as online options.
  • Created the Extended Academic School Year Program for credit recovery using PLATO and Edgenuity as the platforms for our summer school program.
  • Created/implemented the Humanities program (English & Social Studies combined) for grades 9-12 with a total of five Humanities teams. There will also be an Algebra II/Physics co-teaching team beginning next school year!
  • Established the NEASC Committees to begin the NEASC review/process for an October 2016 NEASC visit.

“As you can see, we’ve done a lot and we have much to be proud of! I believe LRHS is well on its way of becoming a model 21st century high school. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all the stakeholders who contributed to these efforts. Thank you all!” he said. “I believe the time has come for me to pass the torch.”

Finn noted that he would available throughout the month of July and as needed throughout the month of August.

“Thank you all again for believing in me and for supporting me as your high school principal over these past five years. I wish you all nothing but the best for continued success,” Finn wrote. “Lake Region High School will always have a special place in my heart; and I will always be proud to say that I was once part of Laker Nation!”

School officials were disappointed with the news of Finn’s departure.

SAD 61 School Board chairwoman Janice Barter said, “It’s been a pleasure to work with Ted Finn during his tenure as principal of Lake Region High School. He came to Lake Region at a time of great upheaval at the high school after it had been designated as a ‘failing school.’ It was a tough transition and he showed great poise as he led the way through the school improvement process that the Department of Education mandated.”

She added, “Personally, I’m disappointed that he’s leaving Lake Region. I enjoyed his sense of humor and the fact that he was never afraid to poke fun at himself. I certainly wish him well in his new job at Gray-New Gloucester.”

Presently, SAD 61 is accepting applications. Applications will be reviewed this week and a decision on which candidates to interview will be made by Friday, July 17.

Superintendent of Schools Al Smith plans to begin interviews before the end of July. The search committee will include interested administrators, board members and teachers from the high school.

A decision could be made at the Aug. 3 school board meeting. “If we find the right person to fill the high school principal position, he/she would be appointed that night,” Barter said.

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