OAKLAND — When Messalonskee Middle School’s Melanie Smith learned she was nominated to be Maine’s assistant principal of the year, she was “completely surprised” but continued in the process out of respect for the person who took the time to nominate her.

When it was announced that Smith was assistant principal of the year, she was “completely shocked.”

“I was shocked when I heard I was selected, because I’m sure there were a number of other phenomenal assistant principals that were nominated,” Smith said.

At a ceremony held Friday at the middle school to honor Smith for the award, Maine Principals’ Association Executive Director Richard Durost said she was recognized in part for her role as a facilitator, according to the district’s website.

Smith, 37, of Winslow, has played an active role in the district’s new focus on professional development of staff members. She works collaboratively with teachers to give them feedback on lesson plans, learning objectives and new classroom strategies. Teachers now can get formal and informal feedback, invite Smith into their classrooms and work with her on action plans to correct student behavior.

Consistent and frequent feedback is something Smith said she wishes she had had when she was a teacher.

“In the past, evaluations have been on a three-year cycle. Our direction now is to provide staff ongoing feedback,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday. “The more feedback we have, the better tools we have to educate the students.”

District Superintendent Gary Smith said Smith is “one of our best” at working with teachers and giving good, constructive feedback.

“She has an unbelievably strong work ethic,” he said, adding that she works well with children and deals “wonderfully” with parents and discipline problems.

Smith earned a degree in business administration before changing career paths and deciding to enter education. She taught fifth and sixth grades for six years, first in southern Maine and then at Williams Elementary School in Oakland.

When the assistant principal position opened up at Messalonskee Middle School, Smith said it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up, even though she was happy teaching.

She felt it was a “phenomenal opportunity” to stay in a district she loved and to work with a principal she respects, Mark Hatch.

“I was also looking at it as an opportunity where I already knew some of the staff and I also knew about 60-ish students in the building,” she said.

Smith has been assistant principal at the school for six years and is also the co-chairwoman of the district’s wellness initiative.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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