Bath elementary school principal to retire next year

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BATH — Larry Dyer, principal of the Fisher-Mitchell School and a school administrator in the city for nearly 15 years, will retire effective June 30, 2010.

Dyer’s announcement, made following the end of the 2008-09 school year last month, was discussed by the Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors on Monday evening.

“To Larry’s credit, he wanted us to have a year’s notice so we could plan the shuffling of the administrators and plan accordingly for his retirement,” RSU 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth said.

When Rita Perron switched principal duties from the grade 3-5 Fisher-Mitchell to the K-2 Dike-Newell school last year, Dyer moved from Bath Middle School to take her place at Fisher-Mitchell.

Since Dyer had experience with students coming to his school after fifth grade, “I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to provide input into that school, knowing what we expect kids to be able to do by the time they get to middle school,” Shuttleworth said. “I felt he would just be a great kind of transition administrator to place in that position.”

Shuttleworth described Dyer as a big man with an equally large heart and spirit, which he brought to Fisher-Mitchell. “The kids and staff, quite frankly, loved him,” the superintendent said.

The RSU 1 board on Monday approved Shuttleworth’s nomination of Ross Berkowitz to the position of assistant principal at Bath Middle School and Morse High School, two separate half-time positions.

“He’s going to work primarily with that eighth-grade team at Bath Middle School, and then he’ll work with those same kids once they get to the high school,” Shuttleworth said. “So he’ll be the primary link between the eighth and ninth grades.”

When Dyer moved from Bath Middle School, then-Assistant Principal Bud Solebello moved up to the principal role there, leaving the assistant position vacant for a year.

“It was a tough year without administrative help,” Shuttleworth said. “You have 400 kids, that’s kind of a tough age with middle school kids not to have that assistant principal’s role for effective discipline and crowd control.”

Morse High currently has two assistant principals: Jay Lemont and Mike Nelson. The RSU 1 board on Monday accepted the resignation of Nelson, who had also served as dean of students and, at the end of the school year year, as athletic director. Shuttleworth said Nelson’s contract concluded this month.

Shuttleworth called Berkowitz “a kid-oriented person; he’s just terrific,” adding that he has been involved with the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark through his wife Claire, the facility’s executive director, “so he knows the kids in Bath very well.”

Berkowitz, who just completed his master’s degree in educational leadership, has taught social studies at Brunswick Junior High School and worked with Brunswick track teams.

The RSU 1 board meets again at the West Bath School at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.