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Harbison steps down as Hodgdon High School principal

HODGDON, Maine — Hodgdon High School Principal Mary Harbison has decided to step down from her post and is leaving the education field.

The SAD 70 board reluctantly accepted Harbison’s letter of retirement during Monday night’s meeting.

“It is with a lot of regret and appreciation for Mary Harbison that we accept this resignation,” board chairman Joel Oliver said. “Mary has been with us a long time and has done a lot of work for the district.”

Superintendent Scott Richardson said he met with Harbison last week when she expressed her desire to step down.

“Mary is top-notch and will be very hard to replace,” he said. “We wish her well in her next venture. I understand her decision. She had a great opportunity arise and I am happy that she is able to make this transition.”

Richardson added that Harbison has been a tremendous asset to the district during her tenure.

“Mary has dedicated herself to the students at SAD 70 both at the Mill Pond School as assistant principal and at the Hodgdon Middle/High School as principal and in various other capacities,” he said. “I never had to worry that something would not be done and done well when I was working with her. She is extremely organized and thorough in every thing that is her responsibility. Mary really understands children and teenagers and worked to create a good environment for learning and for social/emotional growth.   She will be greatly missed as her years of experience are hard to replace. I will personally miss her very much.”

Board member Mark Ganzel also expressed his gratitude to Harbison, who served as Hodgdon’s high school principal for seven years and has been with the district for 19 years. He led the board in giving her a standing ovation.

“I am retiring from the educational system,” Harbison said after the meeting. “But I kept my social worker license all these years and will be going to work for Madigan Estates in Houlton as a social worker.”

Harbison said the decision to leave the educational field was not an easy one.

“I will miss the people and especially the kids,” she said.

Harbison is now the second high school principal to step down from their post in the past few months. Back in April, Houlton High School Principal Marty Bouchard resigned to take a post as middle school principal in Kennebunk. RSU 29 has yet to name a new high school principal, but hoped to fill the post before the start of the next school year.

Her abrupt departure leaves the district scrambling to fill the position just as students start their summer break. The last day of school in the district was Tuesday, June 19.

Richardson said the district would advertise the position and begin recruiting immediately. A committee will look at the applicants to determine the best qualified candidate for Hodgdon Middle/High School.

“We certainly hope to have someone on board by the beginning of August,” he said.

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