LEWISTON — Todd Finn, now a high school principal in Vermont, will be the next superintendent to lead Lewiston public schools.

Todd Finn has been hired as the new superintendent of Lewiston public schools.

Finn was unanimously approved by the School Committee on Monday night. He will replace retiring Superintendent Bill Webster, who’s leaving at the end of June.

Finn, 47, is a native of Massachusetts who visited Lewiston when his late brother, Tom Finn, lived here.

Finn has another brother, Tim, who is principal of Gray-New Gloucester High School.

During an interview on Monday, Todd Finn came across as enthusiastic, and eager to live and work in Lewiston.

“I went around house-shopping today. I’m pretty sure I bought a house,” he said with a grin.

His current job is principal at Mill River Union High School in Vermont.

Before that he worked as a teacher, basketball coach, then as an administrator. He was assistant principal and principal at high schools in North Carolina and Georgia. At those schools, which had high poverty rates, Finn is credited with transforming the schools, decreasing the dropout rate, improving behavior and boosting daily attendance.

One of those schools, E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville, N.C., was such a low-performing school that it was about to be shut down. A parent had successfully sued when high school students graduated without being able to read.

Within three years of arriving, Finn helped E.E. Smith become a school of distinction.

When he first came to the school, “I was the only adult in the building who looked like me,” a white person. “For the first time in my life I knew what it was like to be different.”

That school’s community, especially the mothers, “taught me to listen to their message, ‘Help us help our kids,’” Finn told Lewiston students when meeting with them last month.

To make the school successful, “all it took was changing the mind-set, changing the way kids looked at school, how they felt about themselves,” Finn said.

Lewiston is not E.E. Smith, Finn said. “There’s a lot of pride here.” Listening to people in Lewiston, he said, “you can hear it, a very public conversation that is deeply rooted in a belief that we can be better.”

The community has made obvious investments in ensuring the school system is “world-class,” Finn said. “You can see that when you look at the new elementary school, the athletic fields, talk of a new art center being built.”

When he walked into Lewiston Regional Technical Center classrooms, “my jaw dropped when you look at what these kids are doing,” he said.

He sees pockets of great things happening. But Lewiston’s test-score data, which is below the state average, “doesn’t necessarily match,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in Lewiston would say, ‘We’re good.’”

He plans to lead the community “to dig deeper” and get answers to two questions: “Where do we think we can be? How do we get there? We’re going to put a game plan together and we are going to get there. We’re going to do it together.”

The community’s pride and desire to be better, the diversity of Lewiston’s students, are among the reasons he wanted to be superintendent here.

“I had no intention of becoming superintendent this year,” Finn said. But when he heard of the opportunity in Lewiston, he had to “throw his hat in the ring.”

A fan of the play “Hamilton,” Finn said he wants to be in a place “that is scrappy and hungry. I want that because I am.”

He starts July 1 with a three-contract. His annual salary will be $135,000 the first year.

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