Eileen King bids farewell to AOS 98

“I’m going to miss everyone here. That’s the hardest part.”
Posted:  Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 9:00am
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Eileen King, now former superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98, began her new post as executive director of the Maine Superintendents Association on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

King came to the Boothbay region in 1994 as principal of Boothbay Region Elementary School. After eight years at BRES, King applied for the superintendent position for AOS 98, formerly School Union 49,  after much encouragement from her colleagues. Since the average tenure for a superintendent in Maine is about three years, King’s 16-year run at the top of AOS 98 brings with it many memories, many emotions, and after 24 years total, King said she is fortunate to be able to say there are far too many fond memories to recall all at once.

“This is hard,” said a teary-eyed King. “It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be … I’m going to miss it all … The kids, the staff, and the amazing things that go on in our classrooms every day. I love seeing our kids’ eyes light up when they discover something new or solve a problem or realize they ‘got it.’ Watching our teachers and ed techs who work with all of our students, supporting them, nurturing them and guiding them not just academically, but through life’s hurdles … I will miss walking through the school and hearing laughter, a student learning to play a new instrument and kids chatting as they walk from class to class.”

She said she will miss the administrators, cafeteria staff, custodial staff and bus drivers as well as her colleagues in the superintendent’s office whom she recognizes as the foundation of AOS 98. King treasures all the various staff because she recognizes their care and concern through their interactions with students and their support at school events.

This love and concern for the children, families and staff of AOS 98 has propelled King to her new position in Augusta.

“It’s some of the legislation I’ve seen come into the schools, I think, with the best of intentions, but they kind of put this layer of work on our teachers and administrators. (Then) they don’t do a followup on ‘Did it work?’ or ‘Is this good?’ or ‘Did it meet the goals?’ So it just seems constantly added work for everyone,” King explained.

Instead of complaining about the legislation coming down the pipeline, King said she hopes having a voice in Augusta will have a positive impact on constructive state requirements for schools.

“I always think that a new pair of eyes, a new perspective and a new way of looking at things is good for everyone as my new job is going to be good for me.”

And like King will miss the people of AOS 98, the people of AOS 98 will miss her. In a series of letters, parents, teachers, staff and students shared memories of King illustrating why they will miss her as much:

“Thank you for all you have done for our schools, community, and children all these years. I have never worked at such a compassionate place that is family-friendly, supportive, and thoughtful. That comes from the top down – you. You are an excellent example to women, too, that leadership is possible and can lead to lasting change. I appreciate that example.”

“My decision to teach in Boothbay came down to the people I met in the initial interview – Dan Welch, Lisa Smith, Jane Smith, and the committee … offered an immediate sense of community, which was profoundly echoed as I sat on your couch next to your dog kennel and listened to your emphasis of valuing family. For orientation, you welcomed me with open arms (literally) and I have felt right at home ever since.”

“It’s obvious by your new job title that we aren’t the only ones to recognize how amazing you are! … Thank you for believing in your staff and always supporting us in any way you could.”

King also received letters from the offices of Senators Angus King and Susan Collins congratulating her on her career and new position.

“You bring to your new post a wealth of experience and knowledge,” wrote Collins. “… It is a testament to your leadership and vision that you were selected for this position.”

“… Your dedication has brought well-deserved local and national recognition,” said Sen. King referencing Eileen King’s National Distinguished Principal and Superintendent of the Year awards earlier in her career. “The Boothbay region will miss your knowledge, leadership and energy, but I am grateful that you will continue to shape education in Maine in your new role.”

Added Sen. King in pen at the end of his letter, “I will never forget your early and enthusiastic help on the computer project (MLTI) – you have been a real leader.”

Said Mary Knapp, secretary of the superintendent, “I’ve always been in awe of Eileen's intelligence, boundless energy, strong work ethic and ability to assess all facets of situations quickly and make decisions to reach successful conclusions with careful thought and everyone’s best interest at heart. Although I will greatly miss my boss and friend, I’m excited for Eileen to take this next step in her illustrious career. I know she’ll be extraordinary …”

King gave a cordial endorsement to the interim superintendent Bob Webster and said “ she is sure whomever is chosen for superintendent later this year will be awesome.

“This is a pretty special place. It’s been a special place to work in, and it will be a pretty special place to continue to live in – as a private citizen,” King laughed. “I’m going to miss everyone here. That’s the hardest part … the hugs, celebrations, welcoming new staff to our family, kindergarten bus runs, how our communities rally around our students – from supporting student projects to passing budgets with funds to support our programs … I just want to thank everyone for their support, for being given the honor to work with and love the children of this region. It’s been a wonderful 24 years.”