SAD 51 taps Greely High School teacher as interim principal

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CUMBERLAND — Chris Hoffman had planned to move into school administration within the next couple of years.

But with a unanimous vote Monday by the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors, the Greely High School social studies and science teacher will advance into that role a little sooner than he expected: Hoffman will serve as interim principal at the Main Street school for the 2018-2019 school year.

In a letter to parents Tuesday, Superintendent Jeff Porter also announced the upcoming departure of Jayme Jones, Greely’s assistant principal.

The decision gives the district more time to find a permanent replacement for Dan McKeone, who ended nearly 20 years at the school June 30. He announced his departure April 30, and SAD 51 advertised the position through late May, with the hope of having a new principal start Aug. 1.

But that schedule didn’t provide enough time to find a suitable replacement, Porter said last month. SAD 51 received 13 applications and initially interviewed six people, two of whom were brought back for second interviews. But no optimal candidate was found.

Porter said this month that he spoke with several people about assuming the interim role. Hoffman, a 2007 Colby College graduate who is enrolled in a doctoral program in public policy with a focus in educational leadership, was one of them.

“He’s a known quantity in terms of aspiring to be a principal,” Porter said.

Hoffman has taught at Greely since 2009, and earned his master’s degree in American and New England studies in 2014. He lives in Brunswick with his wife and two young children.

Hoffman has already delved into “a number of areas that … we need to be working on next year,” including the New England Association of Schools and College’s accreditation process, grading and reporting, and culture and climate programs, Porter said.

“He’s already stepped up to the plate in leadership roles in the high school,” the superintendent added, noting that Hoffman would have headed the social studies department next year if not for his promotion.

“I have always been interested in school leadership,” Hoffman said. “This may be a year or two earlier than I had planned on moving into that role, but obviously the opportunity came now, so I’m very excited about it.”

Hoffman did not apply for the permanent position this spring, Porter said. A group that included School Board members and administrators helped the superintendent interview Hoffman to make sure “this would be a good fit for the interim position,” he said.

In allocating time for the school chief role, Hoffman will postpone for a year his dissertation, which focuses on the stigmatization and negative perceptions surrounding career and technical education in Maine.

“I think my demeanor and rapport with students especially is a quality that I’ve always had as a classroom teacher, and also one that I have demonstrated as a leader in the school already,” Hoffman said. “That allows me to form and maintain good relationships with many different stakeholders.”

He described himself as a good listener who enjoys thinking critically to solve problems, and working with others to achieve those objectives.

More hours will be allocated for two part-time teachers to cover Hoffman’s classes, Porter said. Hoffman’s salary is still being negotiated, he added, but will be about $107,000.

Jones has been at Greely High since 2013 and was named 2018 assistant principal of the year by the Maine Principals’ Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She will leave Greely at the end of this month to become assistant principal at Noble High School in North Berwick, Porter said.

He hopes to hire a replacement for Jones by mid August.

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

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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.