CORNVILLE — The incoming principal at the Cornville Regional Charter School sums up his philosophy of education in five words: Each child is the class.
“That’s kind of exactly what I saw in the work that the Cornville folks had put together, really focusing on each individual student,” said William H. Crumley, 69, of Jackman. “To me a high-quality school and the school that I’m going to try to lead in Cornville is going to be very strongly based on relationships.”
Crumley, who earned his master’s degree in social studies education at the University of Maine and his doctorate of education in child and youth studies at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, begins work at the school when classes start Oct. 1.
He previously was a kindergarten-through-grade 8 principal in the Trenton and Surry school departments, near Ellsworth, and was a high school teacher and principal in Jackman and Greenville schools.
“I feel it’s not necessarily what curriculum you’re using or how much money you have in your budget or what your building looks like. Relationships are what make a good school,” he said. “Successful relationships are what’s key to me.”
Crumley and his wife, Dottie, have lived in Jackman for 40 years and raised five children there. When he is not at school, Crumley said, he tends to a large vegetable garden, serves on the Jackman Board of Selectmen and the board of directors for senior housing in Jackman, and is active in his church, the independent Big Wood Community Church.
Crumley, who also has worked as a home repair contractor, a millworker and in the woods building roads for logging operations, said the concept of relationships applies to the entire community, including parents, students and teaching staff.
“You need classroom teachers that really care about every child that’s sitting in front of them” he said. “If you show kids respect, you’re going to have a really successful educational setting. Good teachers can take a good student and get good results; but a great teacher gets the maximum results out of every child, regardless of what level they’re on.”
The charter school, with an estimated 60 students in kindergarten through grade 6, was approved July 17 by the Maine Charter School Commission.
A charter school is a public school that receives public money — state, local and federal — but is created and operated by parents, teachers and community leaders, free of the regulations of the area school district. Charter schools are open to all regional students, with no additional tuition fees or admissions tests.
Public school funding from the state will follow the child from the school district where the student resides to the public charter school the student attends, according to the law.
The Cornville school will offer a longer school day, personal learning plans for every student, a garden program and the ability to schedule social studies, science and health programs for the same period for all grades, kindergarten through sixth grade.
Justin Belanger, the school’s executive director, said Crumley was selected from a field of six strong candidates.
“His references were excellent. The teachers that worked under him said he was the best principal they ever had,” Belanger said. “He brings a respectful, calm demeanor. It’s all about relationships and the culture of the school.”
Belanger said the Cornville board also was impressed with Crumley’s published papers over the last two decades. Crumley has written about using local outdoor resources as a high school laboratory for learning, computer technology for rural schools, education reform and music as therapy.