August 18, 2019

Union 34 leader set to retire at end of school year

HERMON — The superintendent of schools for Union 34, encompassing the towns of Glenburn and Hermon, will “join the ranks of retirement” at the end of the school year.

“This is something I’ve been planning for the last couple of years,” said Gene MacDonald, 58, who has been superintendent in Hermon for 11 years.

MacDonald said Monday he would continue to reside in Hermon, and that although he would probably “play a lot of golf and do some fishing,” he aims to “stay involved in education,” perhaps by taking a position somewhere as an interim superintendent.

MacDonald said wonderful memories would accompany his departure.

“I have really enjoyed my position here in Hermon. It’s been the best years of my professional career,” he said. “We have good kids, good teachers making a wholesome learning environment and strong community support for education.”

MacDonald said although he helped bring about the construction of a new Hermon High School in 1995, he takes special pride in the fact that during his stint as superintendent he “strived to get each child to reach his or her full potential.”

“A brand new building doesn’t make an educational system,” he said. “What goes on in the classroom is more important than four walls.”

MacDonald said when he first came on the scene, teachers in Hermon taught to homogenous groups of students, all of whom were at the same learning level. Through his advocacy, classrooms now feature heterogenous grouping.

“This gives children a better learning environment,” he said.

MacDonald, a native of Vanceboro, started his career in 1961 and 1962 teaching chemistry and physics in Stuttgart, Germany. He taught junior high and high school science in McAdam, New Brunswick, then science and math at Monson Academy. Next, he spent six years as a teaching principal in Vanceboro and nine years as an elementary school principal in Princeton. Later, he became superintendent of schools in Lubec.

Meanwhile, Ray Freve, assistant superintendent in Glenburn, said he “absolutely” would miss MacDonald.

“He’s been a good peer and an excellent friend, and he’s had a distinguished career,” said Freve, who has known MacDonald since 1975, when MacDonald was principal in Princeton and Freve was superintendent of schools for Union 107, which included that Washington County town.

MacDonald said that Glenburn and Hermon “make a good team.”

He said that although he “understands and appreciates” the fact the Glenburn School Committee believes the town has grown large enough to warrant its own superintendent, he’d “like to see both towns stay in the union.”

Glenburn is considering withdrawal from the union.

Meanwhile, MacDonald said he would “help make a smooth transition” for the new superintendent.

“Being superintendent is an outstanding job,” he said. “It’s the most rewarding field there is. It’s something to be proud of. I like the idea that I had the ability to oversee the total school system and that I had input in curriculum, in teacher evaluations, in the total process.

“We’re dealing with one of the most important commodities in the world,” he said, “the kids.”

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