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New Houlton Middle-High School principal settling in

HOULTON, Maine — Jim Hodgkin had never been to Houlton prior to interviewing to come the next principal of Houlton Middle-High School.

“I have always liked The County and was interested in coming here,” he said. “Since I have been here, it has been amazing. The people here are very friendly, supportive and have been everything that I was told they would be.”

Hodgkin was approved by the RSU 29 board in August to take over the position vacated by Marty Bouchard, who had been the school’s principal for 14 years. Bouchard left to become principal of The Middle School of the Kennebunks (RSU 21) in Kennebunk.

Most recently, Hodgkin served as interim superintendent for AOS 93 in the Damariscotta area. It was through his superintendent’s position that he became friends with RSU 29 Superintendent Ellen Halliday, who encouraged him to apply for the Houlton position.

“After 15 years of being a superintendent, I wanted to return to being a principal,” Hodgkin said. “I just finished my 35th year in education, and I had a lot of good years as a superintendent, but I had never had the opportunity to serve as a middle-high school principal.”

Hodgkin said he wants to focus his energy on building organizational cohesion.

“I am a firm believer in trusting the judgement of our professionals (teachers),” he said. “I think I am a pretty knowledgeable leader, but if I am making all of the decisions, all of the time, I will only be successful about 50 percent of the time.”

He said he is pushing his new staff to empower the students to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for their behavior.

“Our job as a school is to prepare students to look at the broader picture,” he explained. “I don’t want our kids to just ‘play’ school. I want them to learn. If we can do that, we will prepare our students to be productive, life-long learners.”

In addition, Hodgkin was named as the director of the Regional Service Center, which is a cooperative effort between RSU 29, SAD 70 (Hodgdon), SAD 14 (East Grand), RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook) and the Region Two Career and Technical Education Center.

“Jim has earned a statewide reputation for his work with dropout prevention, truancy and his ability to create a climate that is student focused,” Halliday previously said of Hodgkin. “He has a clear understanding of the challenges facing teachers. He relies on the expertise of the teachers and values the integral part they play in the decision making process.”

His wife, Mary Jo, and youngest son, Jake, continue to live in their home in Leeds. His wife is a teacher in Auburn and his son is a senior at Leavitt Area High School. The couple also have three adult children — Jaime, Jessica and, Ben and one grandchild — Jack.

Tim Tweedie was named the assistant principal on Aug. 10. He succeeds Dan Hodgins, who took a similar post in Ashland. Tweedie has been a high school social studies teacher for 12 years and department chairperson for the past 11 years. In addition, he has served as the varsity girls soccer coach for the past 14 seasons.

“I am excited,” Tweedie previously said of his new position. “Obviously this is the next step for me professionally. I have always tried to be the best educator I could be. Now instead of impacting 100 kids, I will be able to impact 600 students as the assistant principal.”

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