Bath high school principal to retire after 5 years

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BATH — One wall in Jay Pinkerton’s office at Morse High School is decorated with photos of trips he and his wife have taken to landmarks across America.

Next June, the principal plans to retire and take his RV back on the road to add more scenic shots to his collection.

Pinkerton said his decision to step down was triggered in part by the new Morse High School being planned by Regional School Unit 1. District voters on Nov. 7 approved the construction bond for a new school by a 3-1 margin, and the building is due to open in 2020.

“Let’s say I stayed two more years,” Pinkerton said Dec. 6. “It would be a terrible thing to leave as that new school opens.

“The school’s in a good place right now,” he added. “It’s an easy torch to hand off.”

His wife’s retirement last year also put him on the fence about when he would begin his next chapter.

“I’ve been out of college and married for 40 years, and I was like, ‘OK, I guess it’s my turn,'” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll figure that out.”

Along with spending more time with his family, which includes three daughters and three grandchildren, Pinkerton is looking forward to those road trips.

“You can see where we were a couple years ago, out west,” he said, pointing to the photos on his wall. “We kind of know what the top side of the country looks like; I’d like to cruise down along the bottom side, and maybe up the California coastline.”

The 61-year-old New Harbor resident taught at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft for 11 years, became associate headmaster of Lincoln Academy in Newcastle in 1996, and was promoted to headmaster 10 years later. Pinkerton was named Maine’s assistant principal of the year in 2003. He started the Morse job in August 2013. 

Pinkerton said the job at Morse called to him. As headmaster at Lincoln Academy he functioned as both superintendent and principal, he said at that time, “and the superintendent side of things seems to always be pulling you away from what you need to be doing with students and teachers in a classroom, (which is) more energizing for me.”

He said he was “really looking forward to being a building-level principal and just being part of the life of the school every day, and getting to know all of the students.”

Pinkerton got his wish.

“This has been a much better fit,” he said last week, noting that his work with students and staff is the best use of his skill set.

It’s not surprising that the people at RSU 1 are what he will miss the most.

“It’s a supportive community, (with) a really good quality teaching staff, a nice mix of students and good people,” Pinkerton said, adding that Superintendent Patrick Manuel “has been really supportive of this school and my work here.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with Jay,” Manuel said Dec. 7, noting that the principal has provided “steady leadership” during his time at the school.

“Jay is compassionate, caring, and a person of high integrity who has built a positive learning environment at Morse,” Manuel added. “He helped start the STEAM Academy as well as an alternative education program. Jay will certainly be missed by students and staff.”

RSU 1 plans to advertise the position this month, conduct interviews before mid-February and hopes to have a new principal in place Aug. 1, 2018, Manuel said.

Considering what advice he’d offer his successor, Pinkerton suggested, “Be in classrooms more often. Support teachers. Get to know all the kiddos as much as you can, and their families.”

And of course, there’s that $75 million project in his successor’s future.

“Brace yourself for the new school,” Pinkerton advised. “It’s going to be awesome.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Jay Pinkerton, outside his office at Morse High School in Bath, will retire as school principal next June.

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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.