Maine Principals Association: Greely Middle School principal sets standard
CUMBERLAND — Kim Brandt doesn't see being named Maine's Middle Level Principal of the Year as a nod to her as much as an honor for her school.
"It's great for the school, because everybody works so hard," said the Greely Middle School principal. "The kids are working so hard ... it just feels like a good recognition for the school."
While the Maine Principals Association award goes to her, "realistically ... it's more than the principal who makes a really great school. It's all of us. It's the community, and parents, and kids, and all of our staff. So I do feel like it was achieved together."
The level of enthusiasm from students and staff alike at an assembly last Monday in Brandt's honor left her happily overwhelmed.
"We're absolutely thrilled for her and for the school," School Administrative District 51 Superintendent Robert Hasson said last week. "She's an outstanding educator, wonderful principal, and (it is) a well-deserved honor."
Brandt was nominated by Jack Hardy, a parent and former athletic director in the district, and now assistant principal at Falmouth High School. Hardy said Tuesday that he knows of Brandt's work not just as a colleague, but as a parent of a Greely Middle School student.
"(I) was always very impressed with the manner in which she was organized, and the way in which she communicated with fellow administrators," he said.
Hardy noted that as a Cumberland resident, he knows of Brandt's reputation throughout the community, and that "everyone thinks very highly of her."
Following an application process, Brandt learned she was one of four finalists for the honor. Her school was visited by MPA members who were former principals of the year; they met with her, and separately with a group of parents and staff.
Brandt will be recognized April 26 at the Maine Principals Association's Spring Conference. She will also be honored in September by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Brandt, 50, and her husband live in Poland Spring. She became Greely Middle School principal in 2005, after previously serving as a Spanish and French teacher, teacher leader and acting assistant principal. Prior to that she taught in Maryland.
"I never imagined I'd stay in the same position for seven years, but I love it," she said.
One of the greatest challenges of her job, Brandt said, was not having much administrative experience, which created a steep learning curve the first year. The school, like many others, must address increased student learning needs in the face of declining resources, she said.
But Brandt takes it all in stride.
"All those things that seem like challenges, they spark creativity," she said. "Those are all opportunities to think together, 'how are we going to solve this, what are we going to do to make this better?'"
Brandt noted that one of the chief rewards of her job is working with kids, as well as a community of supportive parents.
"All the way around," she said, "this is the dream job."