New Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Charles Lomonte started work Aug. 28. During an interview on his second day, the veteran administrator discussed his goals, including to welcome sixth-graders into the building and bring “cohesion” to the school.
Lomonte, of Windham, has 30 years of experience in education, about half of it as principal of elementary and middle schools, but Wiscasset Middle High will be his first post as principal of a high school.
Lomonte is originally from Long Island, N.Y. For the last three years, he has worked for the Maine Department of Education in multiple roles, including as Title II coordinator, responsible for the oversight of $9.7 million in federal grant funds; and educator effectiveness coordinator, enforcing standards for performance evaluation and professional growth of teachers and principals.
Lomonte worked as a principal for 16 years at Biddeford Middle School; Lake Region Middle School, in Naples; and Woodstock Elementary School, in Bryant Pond.
He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the now-defunct Dowling College in New York and his master’s degree in education administration at the University of Southern Maine.
Lomonte is excited to be a principal again. “I truly enjoyed the experience of leading a team and serving students directly, and I miss that,” he said.
He is a father of four children, two of whom have graduated from the Windham School Department. One is in middle and one in high school. He has been married for 27 years.
Lomonte said he has a background with students of different ages, though he has worked primarily at middle schools.
He worked in tandem with high school principals at Biddeford Middle School and Lake Region Middle School.
He also worked as an assistant superintendent at Buxton-based Maine School Administrative District 6, which allowed him to work with high school students through initiatives like a dropout prevention program.
Lomonte’s goal is to make WMHS “a place where students and staff are proud of their school (and) a place where they feel welcome and are able to pursue their individual learning needs.”
Academically, he wants to “carry on the tradition of academic excellence that has been in Wiscasset schools,” he said. He said he can already tell that WMHS has “top-quality teachers.”
Lomonte spoke to recent and upcoming changes in the school.
The sixth grade has moved from Wiscasset Elementary School to WMHS, where it will share a wing of the school with the seventh and eighth grades.
“We are so looking forward to welcoming them and making them a part of our school,” Lomonte said.
The middle schoolers will operate on a different schedule than the high schoolers, Lomonte said, “yet we are one school.”
“That’s important to me, to bring cohesion to one school – the middle high school,” Lomonte said.
Wiscasset School Department Administrative Assistant Stacey Souza said WMHS has about 270 students, including 37 incoming sixth-graders.
Lomonte thinks the solution to a high turnover rate among school faculty is to “support teachers.”
He said teachers should feel like they have a role in decision-making and should have opportunities for personal growth and professional development.
“If you do that, and you give them those support systems, you won’t have the turnover,” he said.
WMHS has 61 staff members, Lomonte said.
Though Lomonte lives in Windham, he said he wants to “embed himself” in the community by going to school functions. He said he wants to have good communication with parents by updating them about the school through several mediums.
He also wants students and teachers to be part of the community outside school.
“We have a responsibility as a school to make a contribution to this community – not a monetary contribution, but a contribution in service and support,” Lomonte said. He likes to seek out opportunities for students to be part of the community through businesses or volunteerism.
Lomonte said he was excited to stand by the door on the first days of school – Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 4 and 5 – to greet the students as they entered.