With two weeks until school opening, SAD 61 loses two administrators

Tonya Arnold has resigned as Lake Region Middle School principal to accept the principalship at the Maine School of Natural Sciences, a charter high school. (File Photo)

Tonya Arnold has resigned as Lake Region Middle School principal to accept the principal's job  at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, a charter high school. (File Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

With the start of the new school year just two weeks away, SAD 61 is searching for a new middle school principal and an adult education director.

Tonya Arnold resigned as Lake Region Middle School principal effective Aug. 11. She has been named the principal of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS) at Good Will-Hinckley campus in Fairfield — the state’s first charter high school to focus on natural sciences.

Arnold became principal at LRMS in 2011, and now moves on to a school in Hinckley that will open the new school year with its largest enrollment, 122 students from 27 school districts across the Maine.

According to the school’s website, MeANS includes day students from the local region and boarding students from across the state.

“Located in central Maine on several hundred acres of wilderness, organic farmland and river frontage, MeANS uses hands-on learning experiences tailored to a student’s interests, introducing them to careers in farming, forestry, sustainability, alternative energy and other related fields,” the website states.

Arnold served eight years as a school principal in Fryeburg, Stratford, N.H., and Lake Region Middle School. She was nominated for Maine Principal of the Year in 2015 and Maine Teacher of the Year in 2005.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tonya Arnold to the Good Will-Hinckley community as the new Principal of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences,” said Good Will-Hinckley Vice President of Operations and Interim President Rob Moody. “Our focus — at MeANS and all of the programs on campus — remains providing nontraditional students with individualized attention, hands-on learning opportunities and a chance to succeed. Tonya Arnold shares that commitment and has the administrative experience we need as MeANS continues to grow.”

On the MeANS website, Arnold said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to work and lead the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences,” said Arnold. “Good Will-Hinckley has a 125-year history of making sure all young Mainers have an opportunity to succeed, and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences is quickly becoming a renowned place for innovative, hands-on learning in the natural sciences. I look forward to the coming year and years to come, working with students, parents, faculty and community leaders to continue that growth and success.”

Arnold succeeds Troy Frost, who had a 29-year career at the school, including helping to create and launch the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences and who served as its first Principal in 2012.

The school serves nontraditional high school students from anywhere in Maine who are interested in hands-on learning, the natural sciences and careers in farming, forestry, sustainability, alternative energy and other related fields. MeANS is a separate entity, with its own board of directors, that resides and uses facilities on the Good Will-Hinckley campus.

Now, SAD 61 must find a successor with school set to start on Sept. 2. At Monday’s school board meeting, Chairman Janice Barter and Superintendent Alan Smith said the district has advertised the vacancy and plan to start interviews this week. While it may be late in the hiring season, Barter and Smith strongly stated that SAD 61 won’t simply “settle” to fill the position. If a strong and desirable candidate fails to emerge, the district could name an “interim” principal until a suitable candidate is found, Smith said.

Directors were also informed of the resignation of Stephen McFarland as Community and Adult Education director, effective July 31. Again, SAD 61 is advertising for a new director, but again will consider “some available options” if a successor is not immediately found, Barter said.

SAD 61 has faced a major turnover in its top leadership over the past couple of years with the departure of Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Beecher along with the retirement of Songo Locks Principal June Conley, and the recent resignations of Lake Region High School Principal Ted Finn and Adult Ed Director Carrie Castonguay.

School Board notes

  • Architect hired — Stephen Blatt Architect of Portland emerged as the firm to work with SAD 61 regarding the renovation and construction of new instructional space at Crooked River School.

School Board members listened to presentations by four architectural groups, and decided to hire Blatt Architects.

“Blatt was thorough and covered all the bases,” Facilities Committee Chairman Phil Shane of Casco said.

Superintendent Smith echoed that thought, saying Blatt “covered everything we asked for” and touched on a “few things that we hadn’t thought of.”

SAD 61 plans to put together a project proposal that will reopen Crooked River as a Grade 3, 4 and 5 school.

The timeline calls for the proposed project to go to public meetings in late October and then to a referendum vote on Nov. 3.

Superintendent Smith pointed out that the proposal will also include improvements to parking and access points at Songo Locks School.

  • Smarter lunchroom — SAD 61 has revamped its school lunch program to be “smarter, nutritious and efficient,” and has received USDA recognition for its efforts.

By using fresh and local produce and fruits, SAD 61 has taken major steps to improve its lunch offerings, according to Andy Madura, director of Transportation, Maintenance and Food Service.

Those efforts did not go unnoticed.

Starting next week, TV networks in Maine, and possibly across the country, will air public service announcements about school efforts as part of the “Let’s Go! Smarter Lunchroom” program.

The 2-minute, 23-second video includes clips of the Lake Region High School cafeteria, as well as remarks from students and teachers.

  • Partnership with BH — High school athletes will soon benefit from a new partnership between Lake Region and Bridgton Hospital.

The LR athletic office will team up with an athletic trainer from the BH Physical Therapy Department. The trainer will meet each day with athletes at 2 p.m. to work out “bumps, bruises and other issues,” according to Athletic Director Paul True. The trainer — a full-time BH employee — will also be at home athletic events, and will conduct concussion testing.

True told the school board that the partnership will also result in a member of the hospital’s PT department to put athletes through Fundamental Movement screenings — an eight- to 11-step test of the muscular system, which could pinpoint weaknesses athletes may possess, as well as “trends” teams might show, which could result in some changes in physical training that might prevent future injuries.

True noted that the services LRHS receives will be more than in past years when the school hired a part-time trainer, but at the same budgeted amount.

  • Gift of music — Dick Albert was a close friend of Carol and Dale Honaberger, and knew the couple would be thrilled if their donated musical instruments might light a musical spark in a young child.

The Hornabergers were killed in a motor vehicle accident on Route 302 in Casco. At age 82, Dale played in six different band groups, Albert told the school board.

“I’m a lifelong musician and will do it until I can’t,” Albert said.

In memory of the Bridgton couple, and on behalf of the family and friends of Ed and Joe Beck, a donation of a baritone horn, a trumpet, a trombone and an alto saxophone was made to the Lake Region Music Department.

The school board also accepted the donation of $200 from Rita Perez for the Greenhouse Fund at Stevens Brook Elementary School.

  • Personnel moves — The school board approved the following personnel moves:

Paul Carignan as a special education resource room teacher at Lake Region M.S. This is a new position. There were 14 applicants, four were interviewed.

Debra Roy as a Grade 2 teacher at Stevens Brook Elementary, replacing Rebekah Belanger who resigned. There were 18 applicants, two were interviewed (two canceled just before the interview time).

Jessica Littlefield as a special education tech III at Stevens Brook, replacing Kerry Stewart. There were 10 applicants, seven were interviewed.

Beth Boos as a special education educational tech II at Songo Locks School, replacing Danielle Spearrin who transferred. There were 10 applicants, seven were interviewed.

Thomas Coady as a Lake Region Middle School Math teacher, replacing Linda Dutil who transferred. There were 16 applicants, five were interviewed.

Asa Furst as a part-time music teacher at Stevens Brook and Sebago Elementary Schools, replacing Bonnie Coveney, who resigned. There were eight applicants, three were interviewed.

Robert Kerr as a special education tech III at Lake Region M.S., replacing Bonniejean Wightman, who transferred to another position. There were 10 applicants, seven were interviewed.

Adam Potvin as a special education day treatment support technician at Lake Region M.S., replacing Melissa Kluge who resigned. There were 10 applicants, seven were interviewed.

Sophie Handrahan as a Student Support Center mentor at Lake Region M.S., replacing Miranda Walker who transferred. There were nine applicants, five were interviewed.

Louise Bonjour as a health care attendant at Sebago Elementary (two days) and Songo Locks (three days). There was one applicant.

William Lucas as a school bus driver, replacing Barry Bisco. There was one applicant.

Stefanie Crockett as a school bus driver, replacing Daveen Bell. There was just one applicant.

Christopher Maguire as a school bus driver. He was employed by the district for two years, resigned in June to take another job, and requested to return to his bus driving position.

William Libby as a district-wide maintenance technician, replacing Greg Crosby who resigned. There were seven applicants, four were interviewed.

Philip Bowman as a district-wide groundskeeper (seasonal), replacing Daryl Fernald who transferred. There were three applicants, three were interviewed.

Amy Hannah resigned as a special education tech III at Lake Region H.S.

Leah Heyman resigned as a Lake Region M.S. science teacher.

Shirley Ball resigned as a Lake Region H.S. secretary.

Eli Clemmer resigned as a Lake Region H.S. library media specialist.

Claton Conrad resigned as a Lake Region M.S. science teacher.


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