HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2 has hired Cheri Towle as its new superintendent, and she said it’s her dream job.

Drawn to the district’s mission, “to cultivate hope in all learners,” Towle said she believes learning can be fun and enjoyable. By understanding a student’s background, she said, educators can instruct with the tools the individual needs.

Cheri Towle, the new superintendent of Regional School Unit 2, sits at her desk Tuesday in Hallowell. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“Relationships are the key to everything in education,” Towle said, “getting to know your students and getting to know your faculty so you can support them.”

Towle, 47, of Newcastle, is the former superintendent of the Brewer School Department, which she led for four years. Originally from Southington, Connecticut, Towle moved to Maine as a senior and graduated from Skowhegan High School.

While earning her doctorate in education from the University of New England, Towle studied proficiency-based education and implementation practices in 106 districts. 

“Her experience and enthusiasm came through to us,” RSU 2 School Board Chairman John Hamann said. “We’ve had a number of great superintendents that have helped the RSU grow through tenure.

“We’re excited to have her help us move to the next level.”

RSU 2, also known as the Kennebec Intra-District Schools, serving Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond, was a district she visited as a model with her teachers while the principal at Mount View High School, in Thorndike. 

Proficiency-based education is something that works well for Towle personally. 

She recalled a difficult course she took as an undergraduate. 

“If I was given the opportunity to demonstrate my learning in a different way or given more time to learn the material, I thought I could have done well in that course,” Towle said. 

“That’s the belief I have in education. If you teach a class, not all kids will understand that learning target in one lesson.”

Towle’s contract is for three years, with a $128,000 salary, including benefits.

Near the beginning of the school year, she plans to hold meet-and-greet sessions at each of the schools in order to meet the families and community members. 

Towle’s entry plans for the district are first to get to know how it runs, do an overall assessment and then review policies.

Then she intends to develop a strategic plan for the district, consulting teachers, students and community members to determine the strengths and the needs of the district. 

“She’s good at implementing and making necessary changes while securing buy-in from all of the stakeholders,” Hammon said. 

“She takes their feedback and response to that, and she’s not afraid to hold people accountable.”

But as Towle leads the district, she said she is going to get involved when she visits classrooms. 

“I love getting down on the floor and reading books with kids,” Towle said.

“I enjoy meeting with the struggling student and finding out what’s working, what’s not working,” she said. “A lot of time what’s happening outside of school is impacting what’s inside school.”

As the superintendent of Brewer School Department, Towle developed a curriculum that represented a continuum of learning through each grade, not checklists for each grade. The department also started an American Sign Language program, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. 

“I think we need to get more kids into being able to collaborate and quickly think so they’re successful afterwards,” she said.

Before her Brewer job, Towle was the principal of the Wiscasset Middle and High School for more than a year and the principal of Mount View High School in Thorndike for three years. 

“I love teaching kids,” she said, “but I saw that I could make a bigger impact on a wider scale by being an administrator.

“(As a superintendent) I can work with policy and school committee, and I can work more with the community and drive change for an entire district of people.”

She got her start in education at the Riley School in Rockport and has almost 20 years of classroom teaching, mostly mathematics and science, to all grades. 

Outside of school, Towle is undergoing a life change. 

“I lost my 7-year-old nephew to cancer,” she said. 

Jack Cuna was the son of Towle’s sister, “and he was a little trooper through everything,” she said. He died two years ago after fighting neuroblastoma.

“I looked at everything he was going through to fight for his life,” she said. “I saw I could be doing a much better job taking care of my life.”

Towle has lost 60 pounds. Her goal is to run a half-marathon.

Towle and her husband, Jason, will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this summer. They have three children: Hannah, who is 25; Noah, 22; and Nathan, 18.

 


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