CAPE ELIZABETH — Meredith Nadeau has had a lot to do in a little time.
The new superintendent of schools is in the process of moving her family to a new community; looking for a place to live; meeting teachers, administrators, parents and town officials, and learning about the culture of the school district.
She started her new job on July 22, and said she is looking forward to this new challenge.
“I’ve been getting to know my way around the schools and the town, learning the lay of the land, reading policy and handbooks and Maine laws,” Nadeau said.
Even though her family is still looking for a home, and her 3- and 5-year-olds are adjusting to a new community, she said she is having a good time. While change is inevitable and the district is different from Durham, N.H., where Nadeau worked before, she said the fundamentals of education are the same.
“The fact that we are in education and our essential job is to provide for the needs of students, that doesn’t change,” she said. “And, I think that if you can keep that focus, it’s easier to manage the other pieces.”
Nadeau, 41, came from the Oyster River Cooperative School District in Durham, where she was the the assistant superintendent. She worked as the district’s director of instruction and was in charge of the special education program, humanities curriculum and professional development.
She started her career in education as a middle school language arts teacher, then moved to special education at the middle school level. She became an assistant principal and then an elementary school principal.
“I’ve certainly worn many hats in education, which gives me the ability to take perspective of how different stakeholders feel in certain situations,” Nadeau said.
She said her background fits well with the School Board’s adopted goals, especially around improving literacy for students and professional learning communities for teachers. This year, she said, literacy will be emphasized more in the social studies and science curriculum in the middle and high schools.
She said professional learning communities are relatively new to Cape, but is not a new concept. Nadeau said the emphasis is on collaborative teacher work in order to improve education for students.
With the help of funding last year from the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation, teachers from the middle school and high school were able to receive professional learning communities training and there are funds committed in this year’s budget to continue training in that area, she said.
“It’s really just about being reflective about your practice, but not having to do that in isolation,” Nadeau said. “We can learn an awful lot from each other and if we share our practice, we are all the richer for it.”
Nadeau said she will be involved in school activities and will be available to meet parents, teachers and other community members in the coming weeks at informal gatherings being planned by the School Board, at parent association meetings and community events.
Classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 6, for all students in Cape Elizabeth. At the high school, ninth-graders report at 7:55 that morning, while grade 10-12 students have a delayed start at 10:55 a.m.
Cape Elizabeth’s new superintendent of schools, Meredith Nadeau, gets comfortable in her new office before school opens.