Cumberland school principal resigns, assistant takes interim role

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CUMBERLAND — One door is closing in the principal’s office at the Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School, and another is reopening.

Karen Bubar has resigned as principal, effective the end of December, to take the same role the following month at Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors on Nov. 16 unanimously chose the Cumberland school’s assistant principal, Susie Robbins, to serve as interim principal through the end of the school year.

It’s a job for which Robbins should be well prepared; she was the Wilson school principal from 2004-2010. Robbins served as assistant principal at Wilson the first time from 1998-2004, along with three years as principal of the Chebeague Island School. She asked to return to the role of assistant principal so she could more effectively care for her elderly parents.

Meanwhile, Bubar was assistant principal at Wilson and the now-closed Drowne Road School from 2006-2007. She was then assistant principal only at Wilson the following school year, became principal at Drowne Road and an Individualized Education Program facilitator from 2008-2010, then returned to Wilson as principal in 2010 when Robbins returned to the assistant role.

“Karen was eager to take over, so it worked out,” Robbins said in an interview with her and Bubar Nov. 17. “We knew we could work well together, so it didn’t matter what role we did.”

Bubar echoed that sentiment, calling Robbins and her “a great team for nine years.”

“Karen is very detailed-oriented and organized, and I see the benefit of bringing that to this position,” Robbins said. “She also is incredibly well-read.”

“Sometimes I tend to be too detailed-oriented and business-like, and I think I really learned from Susie about how to relax a bit around that kind of thing,” Bubar said. “… We have very different styles, but we’ve complemented each other well, and learned from each other.”

Discussing her decision to leave, the Portland resident said she has only been an administrator for SAD 51, and has “wanted another experience, wanted to grow in a different way. … I’m looking at this as another learning experience.”

The people are what Bubar said she’ll miss the most. Robbins echoed that sentiment.

“I love the people,” she said. “We’re doing great things for kids, so I’m excited to continue that work.”

Superintendent Jeff Porter, who recommended that the School Board appoint Robbins as assistant principal, called the Cumberland resident “a natural fit for the job” in an interview Nov. 17.

“She’ll bring stability to the position and the school,” he added. “People think very favorably of her, and she’s in a good place to lead the school right now.”

The district will start the search process to find a permanent replacement during the winter term, Porter said.

Asked whether she would consider applying for that role once again, Robbins said, “We’ll see how it goes, how I like it again, and what they think of me. It’s a great trial period.”

With Robbins serving as interim principal, the district is seeking a lead teacher – a non-administrative person who handles day-to-day tasks of running the school, minor disciplinary issues and working with parents and staff.

Porter had worked with Bubar in Portland before he joined SAD 51 last year; she was a literacy coach and he was an elementary school principal. He was also Bubar’s mentor during the year she pursued her leadership degree.

Porter said Bubar has done “an excellent job” at Wilson, adding, “She’s advanced a lot of initiatives there. Her work around … (the Response to Intervention initiative for students) has been incredible, and I wish her a lot of luck. She brought a lot to the district, and she’ll bring a lot to Kennbunkport as well.”

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

With Karen Bubar, left, stepping down as principal of the Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School in Cumberland, Assistant Principal Susie Robbins, right, will fill the position on an interim basis. Robbins is a former principal of the school.

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.