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Home > Supt. Mary Nash named Maine Superintendent of the Year

Supt. Mary Nash named Maine Superintendent of the Year

MSAD 35 Superintendent Dr. Mary Nash, whose district includes Eliot and South Berwick, has been named Maine Superintendent of the Year for her unrelenting focus on creating a system where effective teachers and administrators help all students learn.

She received the honor while serving in her first role as a superintendent of schools, having previously worked in the Boston Public Schools system as an academic superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal. She holds a master’s and a doctorate degree from Boston College and came to MSAD 35 as superintendent in 2011.

Supt. Nash was selected for the honor this past month by a committee of her peers, including former Superintendent of the Year recipients, Maine School Superintendents Association (MSSA) officers and presidents of Maine’s superintendent regions.  She and Superintendents of the Year from other states will now compete for that honor nationally.

“I am profoundly proud to be given this honor,” said Nash. “I truly believe that through this award our work in public education inspires folks to reach out and learn more about the work of our schools and the magnificent accomplishments of our students, teachers and administrators,” Nash said.

Nash has been innovative, thoughtful and inclusive in her work in the schools and with the community.

When she first came to MSAD 35, she faced a budget crisis where after the recession the district did not have enough cash to meet the December payroll. She empowered her principals to have more say in the budgeting process, and put together a plan to fill empty seats, by taking in tuition students from across state lines.

She also helped build community support for the budget.

“Thanks to Mary’s foresight and leadership over these last five years, we have been able to get back on solid ground financially and also weather the many cuts in subsidy from the state that make our annual budgeting an extreme challenge,” said MSAD 35 School Board Chairman Keri Tice. “Mary is always thinking about ways to take MSAD 35 from good to great.”

Supt. Nash made all-day kindergarten a reality this fall in MSAD 35, which despite its proud history of being one of the first districts in Maine 40 years ago to offer half-day pre-K, still hadn’t gone yet to full-day kindergarten.

The district also restructured teacher professional development, eliminating monthly in-service half-days and allowing teachers to create and work on their own improvement plans. Planning and collaborative time also was built into every week so teachers could discuss and better support their students.

“The primary focus of a superintendent is to be sure that every student has the opportunity to learn,” she said. “We have to ask ourselves everyday: Are our students learning at rigorous performance levels? How do we know?”

Supt. Nash offered this advice to those considering becoming a superintendent.

“If you enjoy teaching and learning and if you especially enjoy working with adult learners, then  becoming a superintendent is for you!” she said. “Essentially, superintendents have to be good listeners and reflective thinkers always staying focused on how we can best support the work of our schools.”