BRUNSWICK – Phillip Potenziano will return to Brunswick, where he began his educational career over 20 years ago, to lead the district as the new superintendent.
Potenziano is the Acting Superintendent of Regional School Unit 21 in Kennebunk. He will replace retired Brunswick superintendent Paul Perzanoski, who announced his retirement in September after 12 years in the district.
Potenziano will start on July 1 with a salary of $ 133,000.
Potenziano has 25 years of administrative and teaching experience, according to a press release from the Brunswick School Board. He started his career as a teacher at Coffin Primary School in Brunswick, where he worked for three years.
His entry into the Brunswick School Department comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools across Maine, including Brunswick, which announced Thursday that school buildings would not reopen for classes for the rest of the year. school year.
It won’t be the first time Potenziano has sailed into a new leadership role during a tumultuous time.
Potenziano became Acting Director of RSU 21 in June 2019 after then-superintendent Kathryn Hawes resigned to take up a full professor position at the University of Southern Maine. A Months later, Hawes replacement Maryann Perry resigned her post after just a few weeks amid allegations she mismanaged special education bills at her old job.
Former school board president Marybeth Luce also resigned due to the “incomplete hiring process.” Potenziano was then chosen as acting superintendent.
In December, RSU 21 School Board formally apologized to Rosa Slack, a former Kennebunk High School teacher, for the district’s response to complaints she had made about racist incidents. which had taken place more than two years earlier. Two other complaints of racial incidents involving students were also investigated this year.
In December, Potenziano wrote a letter to the community, expressing feelings of sadness, anger, discouragement and remorse over the incidents, although he was not in charge of the district at the time the incidents involving Slack allegedly occurred.
“I wish we could go back to those days – to have answered differently, to have has supported those involved in more depth, perhaps even to thwart the incident completely, but unfortunately we cannot, ”he wrote. He then announced that he offer the school board “critical” positive action training.
“Although I can’t go back and change what happened,” he said, “I’m going to work to change the future, and that’s what I decided to do. “
His experiences this year have raised awareness of the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in education, he said in an interview on Thursday.
“I am passionate about ensuring an educational program to support all students,” he said. “I hope to instill some of this love (in Brunswick).”
Potenziano has also worked as director of special services, special education teacher and educational technician. He is a graduate of the University of Maine Farmington and holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Boston College.
A search committee was launched in September and the board received 20 applications and interviewed six applicants.
According to school board president Jim Grant, the coronavirus pandemic did not impact the Superintendent’s search process because Potenziano was previously identified as the most qualified candidate.
“He has demonstrated his commitment to involving leaders in his community around the value of great public schools,” Grant said, adding that his interest in building a stakeholder coalition and his knowledge of the district made him a particularly attractive candidate.
In a Facebook post, school board member Sarah Singer said the board determined through discussion with colleagues past and present that Potenziano was “highly respected for being approachable, friendly, extremely knowledgeable and most of all, child-centered.” .
“He has a personal commitment to equity and inclusion and is known for his commitment to learning and growing as a leader,” she wrote.
Potenziano said he plans to hold Zoom meetings online with school officials, administrators, teachers, collective bargaining units and others to start making connections.
Potenziano said he was excited about the opportunity to lead a district on his own, especially a district already on solid foundations with a reputation for strong leadership, calling the district “progressive”.
“I think my first goal will be to get to know the district and the community,” he said. ” It’s primordial. … To make change you have to build trust and you do it through forms of interaction.
He refrains from setting too many goals too quickly, he said, but will strive to ensure that students receive a “world-class education”.
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