Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Introductions!

My first "Monthly Update" is not really an update at all, but more of an introduction!  My name is Heather Perry and I am the new Superintendent of Schools for the Gorham School Department. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to each of you and to share how excited I am at having the opportunity to lead this great school system!

I have spent the past five years as Superintendent of Schools for RSU 3, one of the top three geographically largest school units in the state.  RSU 3 serves approximately 1,500 students in rural Waldo County.  Before that, I served as the Superintendent of Schools for Union 60 in the Greenville area and MSAD 12 in the Jackman area of Maine.   I am now entering my 10th year as a Superintendent and I have enjoyed every moment of it!

I come from a pretty varied experience, and one that I feel has helped strengthen me as an educational leader.  I have taught and/or led every age group of students from Pre-K to adult learners.  I have been an Maine Learning Technology Initiative lead teacher, a NCLB coordinator, and a Special Education coordinator.  In fact, because of the small school systems I have come from, I have had to wear just about every hat imaginable in public education.  As a result, I understand what it takes to successfully lead a school system from many different perspectives.

Many of you might ask what drew me to become the Superintendent of Schools in Gorham?  There are several things that impressed me about the Gorham school system and made me feel it was the correct match for my leadership skills.  The primary thing that drew me to your system was your mission statement:

The mission of the Gorham School Department is to educate all students in a nurturing and challenging environment to become highly competent and ethical citizens who possess the knowledge and skills required for success in the 21st Century.

There are several parts of this mission statement that match my core beliefs as an educational leader.  Since I don’t want this to become a thesis paper, I’ll share just two.  The first is that it talks about educating “ALL students”.  Not just the ones who excel, or the ones who need significant interventions, or the ones from “the right” parts of town, etc.  Our mission statement talks about educating ALL students to become highly competent and successful.  One of my core beliefs is that our educational systems should be built around ensuring each child is successful as a learner and graduates from our high school with every possible door open to them.  Thus students are able to choose their own futures rather than having those futures chosen for them by things often beyond their control.

The second part of this mission statement that drew me to the Gorham Schools was the part about creating a “nurturing and challenging” environment for students.  This touches upon another of my core beliefs as an educational leader – that we need to create schools where every child feels safe, is met at their own level of learning, and is challenged to meet their full individual potential as a learner.  We need to create school systems where students want to come to school because they know they are cared for by every single adult they encounter.  They know they will be engaged as learners, held to high expectations, and pushed to learn and grow while having fun in the process.  We need to create schools where children are respected and they are respectful, where their dreams and ambitions can come alive, and where they can learn to reach their full potential as adults.  

Another of my core beliefs as an educational leader is around visibility and communication.  I believe strongly that an educational leader must be present in the schools and in the community as much as possible in order to better know and understand the organization itself.  A visible presence also allows one to develop the necessary positive relationships it takes to make a complex organization such as a school system successful in serving its students.  I try to be an open, honest, and transparent communicator who is actively involved in school and community functions.  

I will be spending the next several weeks meeting and talking with administrators, School Committee members, staff, students, parents and other community members in an effort to learn more about this great community and our schools.  I will be scheduling meetings throughout the summer and into the fall.  If you are interested in coming by, just reach out to me ( so that we can set up an appointment to meet and chat.  The questions I am asking are simple:  What do you see as the strengths of our system?  What do you see as our challenges?  And if given a "magic wand" for a day . . . what would you do to make our school system even better than it is?

I hope you discover in my future leadership the same passion and love of children that I see so clearly demonstrated in your mission statement and in your schools.  I understand that leadership is a gift given to others.  I hope that over the course of the next several months you will allow me to earn that gift of leadership from you.  I look forward to continuing to learn about the Gorham school system and in working with the community of Gorham to make our mission a true reality for our children! 

Stay tuned for more blog posts!  I plan on posting at least once per month.  Some of these posts might be educational in nature, e.g., sharing recent research or interesting data points. Other posts might be more informational, e.g.,sharing upcoming dates and activities or putting a spotlight on an interesting program occurring within our schools.  Whatever the post is, it will be intended to open a window into the Gorham schools so that you can see all of the truly great things that are going on inside of our schools and within the community.   

Thank you!

Heather J. Perry,
Superintendent of Schools