Search on for new principal at Portland's Deering High School

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PORTLAND — After a career spent in education, the last seven as principal at Deering High School, Ira Waltz plans to spend his retirement becoming a certified master gardener and walking each Portland Trails property.

His other retirement plans include traveling, reading for pleasure and reconnecting with friends and family, he said this week.

The Portland Public Schools last week also announced administrative changes at Riverton Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School.

According to a June 13 press release, the hope at Deering is to find someone who can continue “the success (the high school) has experienced under Waltz’s leadership.”

Deering is one of New England’s most diverse high schools and “under Waltz’s leadership, that diversity has become central to the school’s identity,” the press release said.

Waltz told the Deering community at the school’s June 7 graduation ceremony that he would be leaving. 

Waltz said the past seven years have been “a period of great transformational change at Deering High School, (which has been) reflected in our demographics, our mission and the culture and climate in the school. One of the great privileges of my professional life is having been a leader and participant in this process.”

“In particular,” he said, “I am proud of our focus on global competency, (an) increase in (listening to) student voices, expansion of rigorous course offerings … (and) increased collaboration, while creating a respectful, supportive and affirming environment for all.”

In his time leading Deering High, Waltz said in his speech, “I have learned many things … The first is that skin color, ethnic background, or accent tells you nothing about the individual’s ability.”

In terms of successes during his tenure, Waltz said some of the things he’s most proud of include the school hosting three International Days; rewriting the Student Constitution; and the development of a lunch and learn series between students and administrators at each grade level.

In the other changes announced last week, Ann Hanna will become the principal of Riverton Elementary School and Scott Keysor will be the new assistant principal of Lincoln Middle School, effective July 1.

Hanna will replace Jeanne Malia, who is retiring at the end of June “after being an exemplary leader of (Riverton) for the past six years,” Superintendent of Schools Xavier Botana said in a June 15 press release.

Hanna has served as the assistant principal at Ocean Avenue Elementary for the past six years and is this year’s Maine Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year.

Botana called Hanna “a tremendous leader” and said her “experience and leadership abilities, as well as the caring way she listens to and supports students, make her the best choice to lead Riverton.”

Hanna has been working for the Portland Public Schools since 1990, first serving as an elementary classroom teacher, then a reading teacher, a literacy specialist and a teacher leader, among other postings.

Botana said she provided “leadership, dedication and service to Riverton students, staff and families. Under her tenure, the school has made great gains on many fronts, including student performance, parent involvement and program offerings.”

Keysor is new to Portland. He has served as a special education teacher at South Portland High School for the past 11 years, and replaces Bethany Connolly.

“We are extremely grateful and happy that Scott has joined the Portland Public Schools and we look forward to working with him in years to come,” Botana said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.