Brunswick schools to welcome new principals this fall

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BRUNSWICK — With the new school year will also come new leadership in three Brunswick schools.

New principals have been hired at both the REAL School and St. John’s Catholic School, following the departure of REAL School Director Martin Mackey and St. John’s Principal Timothy Forti.

Chris McCarthy will replace Mackey and Shelley Wheeler will replace Forti.

In April, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski announced that Brunswick High School Principal Shanna Crofton would also be switching roles to become the department’s curriculum coordinator, effective Sept. 1. 

A replacement for Crofton has yet to be chosen, Perzanoski said via email Wednesday.

Mackey, who is leaving the REAL School after working there for 13 years in different capacities, will begin a new role as principal of Nobleboro Central School, beginning July 1.

Forti resigned from his position at the end of the school year due to family reasons, according to Dave Gurtho, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. 

On June 13, Mackey sent a letter to the REAL School community announcing  McCarthy’s hiring, and said staff is “extremely grateful to have him on board.”

Mackey said McCarthy comes to the institution – named for an acronym meaning Relevant Experiential Authentic Learning – with “a long history in therapeutic, experiential education.”

“Chris has a background in special education, school administration, community psychology, and business/government management,” McCarthy wrote. “The staff and students have all had the opportunity to meet him and he has received broad approval from all stakeholders.”

In an interview last week, McCarthy, who is a Brunswick resident, said he spent “the better part of the ’80s and ’90s” at a therapeutic wilderness school in Vermont, which had “very similar students” to the REAL School.

Since then he’s worked in roles outside of education, including as a manager at Bath Iron Works, which he said makes him feel like he can “bring management skills from multiple sectors back into education.”

Ahead of the district’s last day of school June 22, McCarthy also said he was “trying to get as much time” with Mackey as possible.

He added he believes as a “new person” coming into an organization, one should be “ready to understand everything about how it operates,” instead of having pre-conceived notions about how things need to change.

“It’s a great program. It really serves a unique need, not just in Brunswick but in the broad area,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking forward to working with all of the students that could really (benefit) from the REAL school.”

Shelley Wheeler, who was the former principal at Saint Dominic Academy’s Auburn campus, will also begin her new role as principal of St. John’s Catholic School on July 1.

Wheeler has served as principal at Saint Dominic Academy for two years, following a year as a science and math teacher at the school. She also served as a math teacher at two other institutions prior to coming to Saint Dominic. 

Father Thomas Murphy, pastor of All Saints Parish in Brunswick, remarked on Wheeler’s credentials.

“Shelly possesses many years of experience as an educator in Maine schools and is well-known for connecting with students and parents, as well as her approach to implementing innovative approaches in the classroom,” he said.  “We are very fortunate to have found a well-respected principal and teacher to share her passion for Catholic education at St. John’s.”

Wheeler also expressed her excitement at taking on the new role, and said Brunswick has “always been such a wonderful community,” adding she’s looking forward to exploring the town more.

Wheeler is also joining the St. John’s staff as construction on the parish and school’s new facility is underway and said she thinks “with the collaboration of old and new, the future is promising at St. John’s.”

“St. John’s has an excellent reputation for educating the whole student, academically, emotionally, and spiritually, and my plan is to improve upon that and reach new heights of excellence for the St. John’s students and families,” she said. 

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Chris McCarthy has been chosen as the new director of the REAL School, and will begin the position July 1. 

Shelly Wheeler, former principal of St. Dominic Academy’s Auburn campus, has been hired as the new principal of St. John’s Catholic School. She will begin the role July 1. 

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