HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2’s new principal in Richmond brings a wealth of experience with proficiency-based education from his time in Hall-Dale schools.

His successor in Farmingdale is a man who has worked all over Maine and is eager to learn more about the new educational approach RSU 2 is helping to pioneer.

Steve Lavoie, 56, spent five years as principal of Hall-Dale Middle School and another four years as principal of both the middle school and Hall-Dale High School.

When Deb Fisk retired as principal of Richmond’s middle and high schools, the RSU 2 board transferred him to take that job.

Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said Lavoie will bring leadership and organizational skills to schools where proficiency-based education — sometimes called standards-based or learner-centered education — is a newer concept than it is in Hall-Dale.

“It’s amazing to see the goals that that (Richmond) team is trying to accomplish in terms of learner-centered, standards-based approaches, and Steve seemed to be the right match for that,” Hammonds said.

The board hired a newcomer, Mark Tinkham, 44, to fill Lavoie’s former post.

Most recently, Tinkham worked as curriculum coordinator and assistant principal of Windham High School. Before that, he served as an administrator and taught at Freeport and Cape Elizabeth high schools, at Topsham’s Mt. Ararat and in Madawaska.

Tinkham said the Windham-Raymond school district is just beginning to explore proficiency-based education, and he was attracted to RSU 2’s role as one of the first school districts to implement the new educational approach. In a proficiency-based system, high school would not necessarily last four years. Schools will need to break the Maine Learning Results standards down into specific topics and skills on which students must demonstrate proficiency before they can advance.

“They’re pioneers,” Tinkham said. “It’s exciting what’s going on with the standards-based direction that they’re taking.”

Tinkham said he wants to strengthen Hall-Dale’s intervention program for students who fall behind on standards and work with seniors to share information as early as possible with admissions staff at their prospective colleges.

Tinkham has three children, the oldest of whom is 5, and is looking for a home in central Maine. He is a longtime soccer coach and said he hopes to attend plenty of soccer matches and other school events.

Implementing proficiency-based education is an ongoing process across RSU 2, which consists of Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond. However, it started at Hall-Dale schools before expanding to the other communities after RSU 2 formed in 2009.

Richmond’s schools, for example, switched to a numerical, standards-based grading scale a year ago.

Lavoie said his experience at Hall-Dale can help as Richmond continues to transition to the new model, but first he wants to work with teachers to determine top priorities.

“I think we start with what’s everybody’s understanding of what student-centered-ness is and how that applies to teaching and learning,” Lavoie said. “Once we assess what everybody’s understanding is, we can either further that with some professional development, or if everybody’s understanding is where it should be, we’ll look at the next steps that will take us along that journey.”

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