The Wiscasset School Committee unanimously voted to hire Peg Armstrong as the next principal of the Wiscasset Middle High School at a special meeting held Oct. 8. (Abigail Adams photo)
By Abigail W. Adams
In a special meeting held Oct. 8, the Wiscasset School Committee named Peg Armstrong, of Bath, the next principal for the Wiscasset Middle High School.
Armstrong will replace Cheri Towle to serve as the new leader of the middle high school.
Towle will begin her new position as Superintendent of the Brewer School Department Oct. 26, the same day Armstrong will begin her new role in Wiscasset.
Armstrong brings 30-years of experience as a teacher, administrator, and clinical social worker to her new position as principal of the Wiscasset Middle High School. Armstrong, a native of Manchester, named navigating the change in the Wiscasset School Department as the most difficult challenge that awaits her.
It is also what inspired her to apply for the position, she said.
“Change is hard,” Armstrong said. “There’s a lot of change going on.” Armstrong cited Wiscasset’s withdrawal from RSU 12, the internal changes that accompanied the school district’s move to two school buildings, and new state initiatives as key changes that have and will shape the school department in the years to come.
The potential positive impact Armstrong could have on the school department in the midst of the changes occurring is what motivated her to leave her position with the Maine Department of Education and accept the role of principal of the middle high school.
“This is a great community that’s really invested in its schools and its students,” Armstrong said. “I’m excited about the fact (the school district) is in the process of finding itself.”
The school district, in turn, expressed excitement to bring Armstrong on board. In a rigorous application process, with 15 other contenders vying for the position, Armstrong’s credentials stood out, Wiscasset School Superintendent Heather Wilmot said.
“She went through a very rigorous process to get to this point,” Wilmot said. “It’s an absolute pleasure to announce Peg,” as the next principal of the middle high school, Wilmot said.
Armstrong comes to her new position from the Office of Special Services in the Maine Department of Education where she worked on initiatives to improve the education of students with disabilities. Prior to that, she worked in a variety of positions in education.
Armstrong is a clinical social worker. From 2001 to 2006, she worked in Washington D.C. as the leader of a charter school and as a building administrator, providing professional development support to principals and staff, she said.
Despite living and working out-of-state for a number of years, “I always came back to Maine,” Armstrong said.
In her position with the Maine Department of Education, Armstrong had a seat at the table for the development of many of the state initiatives affecting the Wiscasset School Department, namely the transition to the proficiency-based learning system. Armstrong was the voice for students with special needs, she said.
School districts in Maine are transitioning to the proficiency-based learning system, a system of academic instruction, assessment, grading and reporting based on student’s mastery of knowledge and skills, according to the Maine Department of Education.
In the proficiency-based system, students’ report cards are a progress report identifying how close they are to mastering key skills.
For Armstrong, the transition to the proficiency-based system is a positive, because it highlights the individual needs of students. “It’s a different way of looking at education, but it promotes a path-way to individualizing education a lot more,” Armstrong said.
Through the system, teachers have the ability to identify the needs of their students and cater their academic instructions and response accordingly, Armstrong said. Getting to know the students at the middle high school, and their individual needs, is something Armstrong said she is looking forward to.
Armstrong is looking to make a positive difference in the Wiscasset School Department, she said. She is planning on staying in her new position for a long time, she said.