DIXFIELD – It’s always nice to go home again.
When Dirigo High School officials presented Charlie Swan with an opportunity to return to his Alma Mater as an assistant principal and athletic director, he welcomed the idea.
Swan, who grew up in Dixfield and graduated from Dirigo in 1995, was approved by the SAD 21 Board of Directors this week. The board cited qualities, such as strong ties to the community and familiarity with the school system, in its decision.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on Dirigo the past few years,” Swan said. “When the job opportunity came up, I was excited and believe it’s a good fit. If this hadn’t come along, my wife and I were prepared to return to South Korea.”
Swan and his wife Jessica taught at the Gyeonggi Suwon International School in South Korea in two stints for four years. While there, Swan coached volleyball and directed the middle school athletic programs.
“We view Charlie as an individual who has great potential,” SAD 21 Superintendent Dr. Tom Ward said. “He can be a strong educational leader at Dirigo High School and a tremendous asset to the communities we serve.”
Swan has never held an athletic director’s position. Despite the vast responsibilities, Swan feels ready for the challenge.
“Athletics is a key part of receiving a well-rounded education,” Swan said. “I was a student-athlete and believe that you learn character skills and team values. Those are some things that can’t be learned in the classroom.”
“You need to start somewhere,” Bitsy Ionta said, who served on a committee that interviewed Swan. “The lack of experience was a slight concern, but he’ll learn. Plus, he was an athlete in the system and knows full well how strong this community values its athletic programs.”
Jeff Turnbull held the dual roles of assistant principal and athletic director for nearly a decade. Turnbull had originally resigned last year, but school officials convinced him to stay and complete the academic year. He is seeking other ventures.
Swan is hoping Donnie Hebert remains as assistant A.D. to help oversee the various events. Swan has already read the athletic policies and checked the equipment inventory. Everything will be evaluated and altered if necessary.
“It will be different with two roles,” Swan said. “They want me to concentrate more on administration duties with (Principal) Dan (Hart) such as discipline behaviors rather than the actual time laboring at each athletic event.”
The athletic program has grown in recent years, and the established programs have been successful. Football recently achieved varsity status, while skiing and golf are both club sports.
Swan has a master’s in multicultural education and a master’s in school administration and supervision. He did his internship at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Mo., and also taught history.
“I realize being A.D. is a demanding job,” Swan said. “The community supports their athletes and teams at an early age. It’s time consuming, but I’m not worried about that because I enjoy being around athletics. When you approach it like that, you don’t really consider being there as a job.”