Students arrived at Wiscasset Elementary School for the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 5 and were greeted by a new principal. Open communication, high visibility, and a focus on the needs of the “whole child” will define Principal Stacy White’s approach to her new position, she said.
“I’m a hands-on educator,” White said. “I want to be visible in the classrooms, the cafeteria, the playground, talking to kids.” Formerly a longtime educator at Lisbon Community School, White began her new position in July and immediately started work to build relationships and improve communication between the school, parents, and the community.
“Communication is really important to me,” White said. “I want consistent, ongoing, and effective communication with parents and the community.”
The school developed new dismissal procedures based on feedback from parents, created a new Facebook page to update the community about school happenings, and made plans to hold regular assemblies and activities to increase school spirit, White said.
“It’s been a busy summer, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” White said. “It’s been a smooth transition and everyone’s been so welcoming.”
After an extensive search for a replacement for retiring Principal Mona Schlein, the Wiscasset School Committee voted unanimously to hire White in April.
White knew she wanted to be an educator since she was a girl. Her mother was an education technician at Woodstock Elementary School, which also has the acronym WES. As a middle school student, White sought out volunteer opportunities in classrooms. “I just loved it. I loved being in school and around kids,” she said.
The role of an administrator, however, is a new one for White. She became interested in administration after taking leadership positions among the faculty at Lisbon Community School. For almost 20 years, White worked as an elementary school teacher in Lisbon, teaching first, second, fifth, and sixth grades.
As a lifelong learner, White continued her education, earning a master’s degree and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in education.
At Lisbon Community School, she served as curriculum team leader and president of the teachers association.
“As I took on more leadership responsibilities, I found that I loved that role,” White said. “I loved thinking about the big picture, collaborating with peers, problem-solving, and making decisions that impacted more than just my classroom.”
Last year, she started to think about making the transition to administration and found the job posting for Wiscasset Elementary. “I really did my research before applying,” she said, and she liked Wiscasset’s approach to education.
The reading and math coaching program, the pre-kindergarten program, and the introduction to a workshop-based model of education aligned with her personal educational philosophy. “I’m very student-centered and focused on what’s best for kids,” she said.
Meeting students’ social, emotional, and physical needs are just as important as academic achievement, White said. “I want to make sure the whole child is kept in mind, and we meet kids where they’re at to help them be successful,” she said.
White previously worked with Wiscasset School Department Superintendent Heather Wilmot in Lisbon, where Wilmot was assistant superintendent. “I was familiar with her leadership style and I knew we’d work well together,” White said. “We’re on the same page with what we want, which is what’s best for kids.”
Wiscasset Elementary has several new teachers this school year, all of whom completed a new training and orientation program over the summer to ensure they hit the ground running when classes begin. “We have phenomenal staff here,” White said.
Last year, Wiscasset Elementary changed its mascot to the Wolves based on feedback from students. The Wolverines mascot was scary for some students in the younger grades, White said. T-shirts with the new mascot are now available for students.
Each Friday, the school will have a school spirit day, when students and staff are encouraged to wear the school colors. Assemblies to foster a sense of community at Wiscasset Elementary will also be held regularly, White said.
White will serve on the committee of parents, students, staff, and community members that will explore moving grade six to Wiscasset Middle High School – a move White feels is in the best interest of students. “We want to be really thoughtful about how we do it,” she said.
With growing enrollment, finding space at Wiscasset Elementary for the additional classes that have been needed has been a challenge, White said. As an optimist, however, she is confident the school will work through whatever challenges may come.
“I’m just really excited for kids to come back to school,” White said. “That’s the classroom teacher in me.”