NEW SHARON – Paul Knowles is a teacher of teachers and a leader among leaders.

Knowles, assistant superintendent for the SAD 9 school system in the Franklin County area, was nominated to receive an “outstanding leadership” award by peers. The 46-year-old Winthrop man will be one of five superintendents in the state to be recognized this weekend as outstanding educators by the commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.

According to SAD 36 Superintendent Terry Depres, a colleague of Knowles, the nomination is deserved.

“His work with both curriculum and also professional development has been well formulated and I couldn’t be more pleased to have a colleague of Paul’s caliber to be nominated for this position and look forward to the nomination this weekend,” Despres said.

Knowles formerly worked for Despres as a middle school principal in Winthrop when Despres led that school system.

Knowles spent 14 years in the classroom mostly teaching English and then 11 years as an administrator. He took the SAD 9 position July 1, 1998.

Getting the soft-spoken Frankfort native to talk about himself and his accomplishments is not easy. He’d rather talk about what’s going on in education and the issues superintendents face than what he has contributed as a veteran educator. He credits people around him for making him shine.

“I don’t work in a vacuum. … I’m really lucky to work with these super professionals,” he said. “I bring some experience and knowledge to some of the processes.”

Knowles goes to leadership conferences to learn about the newest education techniques and proposed reforms that he shares with staff members. One of the biggest things educators and administrators will be working on in SAD 9 is developing a local assessment piece for students to prove education proficiency in different ways, he said.

By 2007, high schools need to graduate students based on students meeting standards and not getting credits or seat time, Knowles said.

Knowles coordinates and facilitates professional development opportunities for superintendents statewide as well as district educators.

Prior to coming to SAD 9, he was involved in high school reform, which developed into educators teaching students in longer blocks of time and more student-centered learning.

Knowles said SAD 9 staff has developed a standards-based curriculum that aligns with state-established “learning results.”

There is no average workday, Knowles said, adding his duties range from paperwork to public relations.

“Part of what’s exciting about the job,” Knowles said, “is it’s always something different.”

Knowles gets out to the schools as much as possible to meet with staff and talk to students. And at the end of long days, he still has been able to fit working on his doctorate of educational leadership at the University of Maine.

“I feel that if I’m going to be a teacher of teachers, I need to make sure I continue my professional development,” Knowles said. “It helps me do my job.”

Knowles described himself as “outgoing and caring.”

“I’m passionate about teaching and learning,” he said. “To me education for all students is the ticket to better things in life as well as being able to be an involved democratic citizen, so they can be involved in the community and what is going on in the country. It’s a democracy they need to be involved in.”

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