FARMINGTON — Tom Ward, superintendent of Regional School Unit 9, will retire at the end of the school year on June 30, 2018.
After 41 years in education, 21 of them in RSU 9, he’s following his doctors’ recommendations to find something less stressful to do.
Ward, 63, of Temple, wrote in his retirement letter that he has battled high blood calcium for about 40 years.
“Consequently my doctors have informed me that I am at Stage 3 kidney disease and need to find something less stressful to do to slow it down,” he wrote.
Ward, known in the school setting as “Dr. Tom,” wrote that he “would truly like to do more but his doctors tell him otherwise.”
Ward became RSU 9 superintendent on July 1, 2013, when Michael Cormier retired after 20 years in the position. Ward was among nine candidates vying for the job.
Ward was expected to read his retirement letter publicly on Tuesday night at the board of directors meeting, but the meeting is postponed because of a forecasted snowstorm.
“When I came back home (five) years ago to be your superintendent, I made a commitment to the Board of Directors that I would stay at least five years,” Ward wrote in his letter. “This is year (five). I have often said how much I love this school district and how this was my dream job. I also said this would be my last stop in my career in education. I still love my job and love this school district. I thank all of you for your tremendous show of support and appreciation for my efforts. We together have accomplished much.”
Of his four decades in education, 37 of them have been in administration.
By announcing his retirement early it will give the school board time to do a thorough search for his replacement.
“I have had an amazing 41 years in education and the pleasure of working with outstanding people throughout my career,” Ward wrote. “As a graduate of Mt. Blue in 1972, a teacher, coach, (athletic director, assistant principal, principal and superintendent,) I have dedicated 21 years of my life to this school district and I want to assure you that I will always bleed blue and gold.”
Ward has led the district through restructuring the elementary grade schools and consolidated grade six at Mt. Blue Middle School. Among his other accomplishments is establishing three day-treatment centers in the schools to keep the students who require special services closer to home. The move saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An International Student Program was started under his watch with students from China, and previously other countries, paying tuition to come to Mt. Blue.
Ward was superintendent of RSU 10 in the Rumford, Mexico, Buckfield area when he accepted the job of leading RSU 9.
When he accepted the position, he said, he was excited but it was also a very difficult decision.
“I put my heart and soul” into RSU 10 for four years and SAD 21 in Dixfield for six years prior to that, he said in March 2013.
Ward’s career includes being a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal/athletic director and principal of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington. He also was principal at Dirigo High School in Dixfield and came back to Mt. Blue High School as principal for eight years. He was principal of SAD 35’s Marshwood High School in South Berwick for eight years and superintendent of SAD 21 for six years before consolidation to RSU 10, which he had led for four years prior to taking the RSU 9 position.
Superintendent Tom Ward (Sun Journal File Photo)