Outgoing Principal Rick Amero takes time Tuesday to reflect on his more than three decades as an educator at Monmouth Academy. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MONMOUTH — Few can think of Monmouth Academy without thinking of  Principal Rick Amero.

Leanne Burnham, a member of the Regional School Unit 2 school board, said Amero “bleeds maroon and white.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine Monmouth Academy without Rick Amero,” she said.

Burnham’s eldest daughter graduated from Monmouth Academy last year. She also went to the high school, later coaching there and got to know Amero on a personal level.

“It’s always been evident to me he is committed to meeting the needs of each individual student,” she said.

But on Oct. 18, Amero will start in a new school district.

He will become the superintendent of Waldo County Technical Center after nearly 32 years of being an educator, administrator and coach at Monmouth Academy. He has been principal since 2011.

Rick Amero, as seen in his 1985 Monmouth Academy yearbook photo. Contributed photo

News of Amero’s departure was a surprise to many because of his roots in the town and passion for Monmouth Academy.

Doug Ludewig is a former seventh- and eighth-grade teacher in the Monmouth schools and had Amero in his classroom. Later on in Amero’s career, the pair became colleagues. Ludewig calls Amero’s departure a “tragic loss for Monmouth.”

Having grown up in the town, Amero attended the Monmouth schools and graduated from Monmouth Academy. In his junior year of high school he decided he wanted to become a teacher and once he made the decision, he said it was a “clear path” from then on out.

He attended Husson University and after graduating, he received a call from a former teacher who asked if he could student teach, which he did until a teaching position opened up the next year. He taught business, computer and personal finance.

Amero’s mother was the secretary at the high school, as she had been since he was a child, serving in that role for 53 years before she retired. He said being back at Monmouth Academy was especially meaningful since he grew up around the teachers and students.

“I was thrilled to be going back to my high school,” he said. “I always felt Monmouth Academy was a wonderful place when I went through.”

A couple of weeks ago, he told staff his plan to leave the district and by the next morning, word had gotten out to the students.

Amero wanted to be the one to tell the students, especially the upperclassmen who he said he got to know well before the pandemic. He gathered them in the gym and told them of the news, with emphasis on the fact he does not plan to leave the students behind.

“I wanted to look them in the eye and explain to them, ‘This (Monmouth Academy) is an awesome place and I love you and I will continue to follow you. You’ll see me at other things and I just couldn’t leave you all for another high school,'” he said.

Jon Hamann, chairperson of the RSU 2 school board, has two children that have attended Monmouth Academy and said it’s clear how invested Amero is in the success of the students.

Amero has a deep sense of pride for the school and despite being principal, will fill in where needed to make sure all areas are succeeding. From driving a bus to feeding lunch, to being an interim guidance counselor, it’s clear Amero puts his students first.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the valedictorian headed to an Ivy League school, a recruit heading to serve our country, or a graduate entering the workforce, he has the same beaming smile for each of them,” Hamann said. “I’ve lost track of how many diplomas are accompanied by a hug.”

Monmouth Academy seniors surround Principal Rick Amero for a group huddle before marching into graduation at the school on June 9, 2013. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

People in the community, like Burnham, appreciate Amero’s way of continuing tradition at Monmouth Academy.

Amero noted Monmouth Academy’s “rich history,” saying it “survived the great depression, world wars and pandemics,” and that part of his job as an administrator was to keep tradition in any way he could.

Monmouth Academy girl basketball coach Rick Amero is seen coaching a tournament game in a Feb. 19, 1998 file photo taken at Augusta Civic Center.. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Since I’ve been a leader, I wanted to honor all those things, even things like how we carry ourselves as Monmouth Academy students and it’s not about losing the game,” he said, “it’s about how you carry yourself is what you are going to remember about representing and the tremendous pride … even as a small school, it’s about the identity of the community.”

Though “emotional” about leaving the community, Amero is excited to “challenge himself” in a way he has yet to be challenged. He said it has been his “next step” for a while and going to a technical center where he can help students with his aspirations is a “whole new endeavor” he is “excited” about.

Amero’s new position will allow him to work hands-on with students and to follow his passion for helping students set up their lives beyond high school. The Waldo County Technical Center is for high school students and offers a variety of life courses for students and Amero hopes he can aid in the technical position shortages across the state.

Amero hopes the technical center can be a place that can attract people in technical careers to come back and teach the next generation as well.

“I’ve always felt like it was a critical piece of education and over the school years in three decades, industrial arts, business education and cooking,” he said. “Those have disappeared in high school and there is such a need for it, a critical need, not only labor but through engaging kids in that.”

The new position will bring Amero back to what he first taught — but like the community can attest, Amero will always “bleed maroon.”

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