I cross the bridge every morning as I walk Indy from a new home and on a new route. Gone are the familiar blocks of St Johnsbury, gone are the cool pathways of the Mt Pleasant Cemetery, and gone are the mornings free of mosquitos and black flies; we’ve landed in Maine. Newcastle Maine to be specific. As I settle in to the role of the 44th Head of School at Lincoln Academy, there are many mornings that I find myself crossing the bridge from Newcastle to Damariscotta and I hope that I always will find the same excitement and interest in those crossings as I have had in these first days since moving into town.
Coastal towns in Maine hold their own special beauty, their own unique character and charm. It is different then rural northern New England, or the Northeast Kingdom, as it was known to me for the past 10 years. Mountains and tall trees are replaced by rocky coasts and the smell of salt water.
As the emotions and exhaustion of moving house and leaving our home of a decade fade to the background, I welcome the newness of this adventure. As the bittersweet sorrow of leaving friends and loved ones is tempered by the hope that we will see them all soon, I look forward to crossing more bridges. Bridges to a new community, to a new set of friends and colleagues and to a new life in a different kind of beautiful place that is coastal Maine.
I am buoyed by my hope for the future, anchored by my belief in the school, its students, parents, teachers and staff. I’ve included a portion of my first address to the faculty, delivered in their final faculty meeting before the summer began.
I’m from away, or at least that is the way I was described in the NEK. Even though I grew up in Williston, Vermont I was not a true Vermonter as I was born in Stuttgart Germany where my father was stationed in the late 60s.
Everywhere I’ve been I guess I’ve been from away. I’ve lived in Maine and Vermont for all of my life, except for 13 months in Germany to start my life and 6 weeks in Scotland when on assignment at IBM. For all of my professional life I’ve been living in Maine but from Vermont or living in Vermont having come from Maine.
Many people have asked me why are you leaving Vermont and returning to Maine. My answer is simple, I fell in love with Lincoln Academy. Independent town academies do that to people. They are unique educational institutions, the oldest and I think the best model of education for a community, in the American educational landscape. Steeped in proud tradition, expert in serving the needs of all of its students, town academies thrive in partnership with local schools, town organizations, non-profits and like-minded community groups. We build careful intentional relationships with our constituents and create supportive and challenging community, intentionally.
There is so much that I’m looking forward to in beginning the challenge of leading Lincoln Academy as Head of School. I can’t wait to teach, to observe, to talk to each and every one of you. Perhaps most importantly I want to listen. Listen to students, parents, alumni, and community members.
In listening I know I will gain the understanding to move us forward, I will find the commonalities amongst us to build bridges and I will build the courage in us to make changes to prepare our community for the future. The work ahead is difficult, worthwhile and rewarding work.
In my first two months of being a Head of School, a role I’ve been preparing for nearly all of my career, I’ve seen the quality of the community, the care and devotion of the faculty and staff and perhaps most importantly I’ve seen excitement, hope and belief. Excitement for the new chapter to begin, hope that each new set of challenges will be met with optimism and belief that LA is, and will be, a place where bridges are built and crossed by people making paths to their future no matter where they are from. While once again I find myself “from away”, it is already beginning to feel like I’m home.