WATERVILLE — When Brian Laramee stood up Thursday night on stage to address graduates of Waterville Senior High School, the principal talked about the many hats students had to wear during their time at the school.

The emotional moment was just as much about him.

Laramee became principal this year amid uproar over the controversial ousting of his predecessor, even as he watched his daughter progress through her senior year at the school. This spring, he also earned a doctorate of philosophy degree in education from Capella University in Minneapolis, with a specialization in curriculum and instruction.

“But the memories of wearing those hats and the challenges this balancing act created will stay with me forever,” he told the 131 graduating seniors at Colby College in Waterville.

In the fall, Waterville Senior High School will head into the 2016-17 school year with a new administrative team, given the recent hiring of Laramee as principal and Joseph Haney as assistant principal.

Laramee, 40, had been acting principal since September and was hired April 6 as principal; and Haney, 52, was hired June 1 as assistant principal.

Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which includes Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro schools, said Laramee and Haney are a great match of personalities and a great fit for the high school.

“Joe is an amazing student-centered administrator,” Haley said. “He has a great rapport with both staff and students. He listens well, has a wonderful sense of intuition in dealing with student behaviors and most sincere when dealing with their issues.”

Laramee, Haley said, is a thoughtful, intelligent administrator who always challenges the status quo and constantly wonders about how to make things better.

“I love listening to his ideas and thoughts regarding schooling and all that goes with it,” Haley said. “He is still in the midst of developing his vision for the future of Waterville Senior High School and obviously still putting his personality on it. I have no reservations that this will all come with time and experience, but I have been very impressed with the questions he asks, the issues he has chosen to tackle first and the plans he has.

“I am excited about the future of WSHS and the careers of both Joe and Brian. The students will be well served with them at the helm.”

Laramee, whose salary is $104,980, not including benefits, had faced unexpected challenges during the 2015-16 school year and met them head-on. The year started with then-Principal Don Reiter being placed on administrative leave in September while he was investigated by school officials and police for allegedly asking an 18-year-old student for sex on Aug. 27, the first day of school, in his office.

Reiter was fired Nov. 16, after hearings before the Board of Education, and he was charged with official oppression by police and the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office.

The Reiter episode appeared to divide schoolteachers and parents, with many vocally coming to the former principal’s defense during the dismissal hearings while others were critical of the support. Some teachers said the months-long ordeal created a negative atmosphere at the school, and that the community wanted to heal those wounds in the aftermath of Reiter’s dismissal.

Laramee, who had been assistant principal four years, became acting principal in September when Reiter was placed on leave. Paul Pooler, former assistant principal at the high school, was named interim assistant principal and remained in that position until Feb. 22, when Haney took that temporary spot.

Haney, whose salary is now $82,000, not including benefits, had been a job specialist for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates at the high school since 2005, working with at-risk students and helping them to stay on track, graduate and reach their potential. Haney said he offered to step into the interim assistant principal’s position when Pooler vacated it.

“I was not actively pursuing an assistant principal position,” Haney said. “I was interested in being assistant principal at Waterville High because of the tremendously dedicated staff and culture of the school, and looking for an opportunity to have a greater positive impact.”

Serving as interim assistant principal provided Haney an opportunity to get a sense of what the job entailed and whether it was a good fit for him. If it was not, he could return to his Jobs for Maine’s Graduates position. As it turned out, he enjoyed the role and he and Laramee found they worked well together and were a good team.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to be in a win-win situation,” Haney said.

As the new principal, Laramee supervises about 70 staff members, including teachers and teacher aides, custodians, and secretaries. He also does hiring and evaluations, oversees behavioral and academic school goals, runs staff meetings, and develops budgets. His doctorate dissertation, “Funding Analysis of Maine’s School Administrative Units: Finding Efficiency in a Resource-Strapped Fiscal Climate,” focused on the relationship between fiscal resources of public schools in Maine and student achievement.

Before coming to Waterville, Laramee taught for seven years at Gardiner Area High School, then was assistant principal and athletic director for three years at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. He grew up in the town of Mexico and graduated in 1993 from Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

He attended Rochester Institute of Technology for four years, majoring in biotechnology, but decided working in a laboratory was not for him. He enjoyed working with people.

He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Maine at Farmington and then a master’s in educational leadership from University of New England. He also earned a certificate of advanced graduate study from Capella, which offers online study.

Haney, whose responsibilities in Waterville include handling student discipline, attendance and staff evaluations and giving input on policies and procedures, holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Maine at Farmington as well as a certificate in plumbing and heating from Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

From 1998 to 2000, he was a job specialist for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates in Augusta; and from 2002 to 2005, he was a regional manager of the program, before becoming the job specialist at Waterville High.

Haney was the director of Pine Tree Camp for Handicapped Children and Adults from 1992 to 1998 and was responsible for running all facets of the camp, ensuring more than 400 campers received safe and enjoyable programming in a residential setting. He also was actively involved in fundraising.

Haney’s awards include Jobs for Maine’s Graduates Master Specialist, the 2006 Waterville Senior High School Renaissance Faculty of the Year Award and the Waterville Board of Education Award, also in 2006. He was class advisor for the class of 2015 and is class advisor for the class of 2019.

Laramee said the school staff was receptive to his being acting principal this past school year and helpful during the transition and beyond.

“We have a great staff,” he said. “For me, it’s helped me out immensely. I’m definitely looking forward to next year and future years.”

Laramee said he gives the veteran school staff a lot of credit for its caring and supportive nature.

“They really made a difference,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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