Region Two director will retire this summer
HOULTON, Maine — After a career spanning 35 years in education, Houlton’s Region Two School of Applied Technology Director Dave Keaton is retiring at the end of summer.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better staff to be receptive to any new thoughts or initiative. It’s been a great place to try new things and grow, and I have not regretted any of that,” said Keaton. “That’s one thing I’ll look back with fond memories of, and quite frankly, it’s going to be pretty tough to leave.”
Keaton arrived at Region Two nine years ago, having previously served as director of Somerset Career & Technical Center (SCTC) in Skowhegan. In his time in Houlton, Keaton oversaw an expansion of the school’s student body from 140 kids to 230. The increase in students also came along with the introduction of several new programs and career tracks, including EMT, mechanical systems and an introduction to medical professions program.
However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Keaton’s final year saw a reduction in those numbers, as it had with other schools in the area.
“We had a number of families and kids that weren’t so sure they were going to send their kids because they were nervous about exposure and things of that nature,” Keaton said. “It’s pretty tough to teach kids welding remotely.”
Despite the setback, Keaton led the school safely throughout the pandemic, with minimal disruptions to the last school year, avoiding long-term closures and keeping contact between different programs minimal.
“To this point we’ve done extremely well to get as far as we’ve gone for the school year,” Keaton said. “There was a couple of times we went out for a day or two, but that’s really the only time we’ve had to shut down.”
Keaton, who lives in Caribou, will make his last trip down to Region Two on Aug. 6, the first Friday of the month. His last official day will come one month later in September.
Region Two is currently in the search of a successor for Keaton’s position.
In addition to Region Two and SCTC, Keaton also served a stint at the St. John Valley Technical Center in Frenchville and was a high school principal in Limestone and Ashland.