GRAY — When students return to Gray-New Gloucester Middle School this fall, they will be greeted by a new principal and vice principal.
Rick Hogan, 49, has been hired as principal and Kristen Dacko, 31, will join him as assistant principal.
Hogan of Brunswick was most recently principal of Maranacook Middle School in Readfield. Earlier in his career, he was a science and math teacher at Greely Middle School and Falmouth Middle School, and was also an assistant principal at Falmouth Middle School.
Hogan has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in science education, both from the University of Maine. He also has a certificate of advanced study in education leadership from the University of Southern Maine.
He and his wife lived here for several years and were married at Spring Meadows Golf Course. They have two sons.
“So when the opportunity came to move a little bit closer to home in a community that I was familiar with, and a school district that has a good reputation, I decided to take a shot,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
Dacko, who lives in Bethel but is planning to relocate to Gray, has served as the dean of students at Telstar High School in Bethel for the last three years. Before that, she was a science teacher at Oxford Hills Middle School for seven years.
She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary science education from the University of Maine at Farmington, and a master’s degree in education from New England College. She grew up in Gorham and has a 1-year-old daughter.
“My husband and I decided we wanted to move closer to where I grew up and closer to both of our families,” she said. “Like Rick said, I’ve heard great things about this school district, and we’re actually planning on moving in about a month and a half to Gray. So I’m excited to be part of the community.”
SAD 15 Superintendent of School Craig King said Hogan’s and Dacko’s experience with middle school education philosophy and middle school-aged students particularly helped them stand out in the hiring process. The positions, advertised statewide and nationally, drew about 25 and 30 candidates, respectively.
“A lot of times, middle school is such a niche that a lot of school districts are kind of forced to hire an elementary person to be the middle school principal or hire a high school person to be the middle school person,” King said. “These two people were clearly middle school people. We weren’t trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”
The new administrators started in the district after July 4, and say they are looking forward to meeting more of the roughly 60 staff members at the school, which has more than 600 students.
“We’re looking to come in and observe, ask a lot of questions, get a feel for what’s going really well in the building right now and the try to see what the course forward will be,” said Hogan.
Hogan’s starting salary is $104,465, while Dacko’s is $89,825.
Former middle school principal Sherry Levesque retired after a 38-year career, and former assistant principal Danny Blake is now principal at the James W. Russell Elementary School in Gray.
Rick Hogan is the new principal and Kristen Dacko the new assistant principal at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. (Matt Junker, The Forecaster)