LEWISTON – When school starts next September, Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot won't be there.
A member of the Maine Army National Guard, he's being deployed to Afghanistan for one year. Chabot, 41, is a medic with the 251st Engineer Co. in Norway.
The Lewiston Middle School will have an interim principal while Chabot is overseas, Superintendent Bill Webster said.
“I greatly appreciate Shawn's work at Lewiston Middle School and for our country,” Webster said in a recent superintendent's report. “Lewiston public schools will support Shawn and his family any way we can.”
Chabot said he has mixed emotions about deploying.
“I'm excited to do my part, to serve my country like thousands of other men and women have done. Personally, it's a little scary,” he said Wednesday. Serving in Afghanistan “is not coming to school. It's hard to leave your family for a long time.” Chabot has a wife and three children.
But he stressed he's only one of many making sacrifices. “A lot of people are serving,” he said.
He found out Thanksgiving weekend that his unit will be deployed from about the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2014. His school community, and the Lewiston School Department, have been supportive, Chabot said.
All employers have to ensure military members have their job when they return from service, “but they don't have to make life easy. Bill has publicly and personally assured me not to worry about that.”
The School Department will decide by March who will be the interim principal during the year Chabot is gone, Webster said.
Chabot has been a member of the guard for 13 years. As a medic, he has his EMT certification. Being in the guard is a commitment, he said, “but I've always wanted to give back to my community and country. This is one way to do that.”
There are a lot of initiatives at the middle school, such as the renovation and new programs to help at-risk students. Some of his students knows he's being deployed.
“I'll try to keep it low drama and not disrupt the learning environment here at school. I don't want my departure to change anything,” he said.