As the new school year begins, the Gardiner-area school district is welcoming four new administrators.

And as the school year continues in School Administrative District 11, officials will carry on projects started last year and consider changes for future years.

“Our board is deciding to move forward in exploring a change in the start of the school day,” Superintendent Patricia Hopkins said.

Throughout the course of the year, the board is planning to hold a series of forums to hear from stakeholders and about the research on the topic.

The school will also continue safety training that was begun in the last school year, Hopkins said. The district has scheduled an informational meeting on ALICE training at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Gardiner Area High School for parents and the public to attend.

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. ALICE training is geared toward improving the chances of survival during an active shooter event.


Over the summer, the district hired Jarrod Dumas as the assistant principal of Gardiner Area High School, John LaPerriere as the new Gardiner Regional Middle School principal and Christina O’Neal as principal of the Pittston-Randolph Consolidated School.

After experimenting with having one person serve as both athletic director and director of Adult Education, the district has split those duties. Nate Stubbert, who held both positions last year, is now a full-time athletic director for grades 6 through 12. The district hired Josh Farr as the half-time director of Adult Education. He works in the same capacity for the Winthrop School District.

All of the new administrators have been hired from outside the district and started during the summer.

“We didn’t have a hard time filling the positions,” Hopkins said. “For one position, we did re-advertise, but the pool of candidates had changed and the candidate we selected was our first choice. We’re very happy. They’re great candidates, both academically and managerially.”

The number of vacancies at the administrative level was unusual for the district, Hopkins said. In her time with the district, she has hired very few administrators.

Hopkins said she was looking for candidates who could manage the day-to-day operations of the schools and were also instructional leaders to be a support system to help the district staff advance student academic performance.


Jarrod Dumas

Dumas comes to the Gardiner-area school district from Regional School Unit 4, where he spent the last four years in administration. Before that, he was a high school social studies teacher for 12 years.

He said he applied for the position because it would allow him to work at the high school level and he had heard a lot of good things about the district.

“I felt really great about the possibility of coming to wok here, and I am passionate about working with kids,” Dumas, 41, said. “I’m excited to be here.”

When he made the transition from teaching to administration, Dumas said the progression seemed natural. During his career, he gained a wide range of experience including working with administrators.

As a newcomer, he said his challenge will be getting to know the students in ninth and 10th grade, and for them to know him.

“When you are new to any position in education, that can be a challenge,” he said.


Dumas, who grew up in Rumford, does not rule out a return to the classroom.

“I love teaching,” he said, “and if I get the chance to help cover a classroom, I get pretty excited. It’s nice to have that contact.”

John LaPerriere

Education is a second career for LaPerriere, and this position in Gardiner is his first as  principal.

Most recently, LaPerriere, 55, worked as an assistant principal in Lisbon, which is similar in size and demographics to Gardiner.

“It’s a close-knit community,” he said, “and a student’s education can be a game changer.”

The Augusta native came to education after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, where he spent 20 years.


“This is my 13th year in education,” he said. “I love kids and I love being a part of kids’ lives.”

While he describes himself as a structured person, LaPerriere said his thoughts about teaching and learning have changed since he retired from the military.

“Kids like consistency,” he said. “So every day I come to school with the same attitude and disposition so they know what to expect every day.”

The biggest challenges in starting a job in a new community, he said, are getting to know that community, getting to know the adults in kids’ lives and building relationships.

Additional challenges, he said, are getting a sense of what the job entails, looking at what is going on and knowing what the next step is.

Christina O’Neal








For O’Neal, the new principal of the Pittston-Randolph Consolidated School, the school district’s reputation was part of what drew her to the position, and it gives her a chance to work in a more-rural setting.

O’Neal, 50, has been teaching first grade in Regional School Unit 23, based in Old Orchard Beach, but during her career has also worked in Vermont.

Part of what influenced her to take the position was the school, she said, and its welcoming atmosphere.

The school itself has changed over the past few years. When the district closed the former Teresa C. Hamlin Elementary School in Randolph, those students were transferred to Pittston, just a mile away. To accommodate the larger enrollment, modular classrooms were added last fall to the school property.

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