DIXFIELD — Michael Hutchins is moving on, but he’s surely not the retiring type.

Dirigo High School’s athletic director gave his one-month notice this week. He’s leaving the school March 23 to help start a sister school to Lee Academy in Shanghai, China.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Hutchins said. “It allows me to teach teachers, which is something I enjoy doing.”

Hutchins, 63, spent 20 months at the latest stop in his 39-year career in education. He inherited a winning infrastructure, and nothing changed during his time in the Cougars’ athletic office.

Every winter sports team at Dirigo either won a championship or played in a title game this season. Wrestling won its second consecutive Class C title. Cheerleading won Western Maine and finished second in the state. Nordic skiing captured a Mountain Valley Conference crown.

And this past Saturday, the Dirigo boys’ basketball team won its fifth Class C West championship in seven years. The girls finished as runner-up to Maranacook.


“I really enjoyed it at Dirigo,” Hutchins said. “The kids are great. I have a great coaching staff. It has been a pleasure to work with (principal) Mike Poulin and (RSU 10 superintendent) Craig King.”

Hutchins arrived at Dirigo in semi-retirement after 10 years as an assistant principal to Gus LeBlanc at Lewiston High School.

LeBlanc left that post the same year to become headmaster at Lee.

“I was his curriculum coordinator, and he asked me if I would be interested in this,” Hutchins said. “I will be in charge of professional development for teacher, implementing a curriculum called Understanding by Design. It’s the same philosophy I helped implement at Lewiston.”

Hutchins acknowledged that he isn’t quite sure of everything the job will entail.

He expects to be in Shanghai for at least two months, hiring and developing teachers and getting acquainted with the area. He may fly back and forth between China and Maine several times during the year.


“I’ve never done anything like this in my life. I’m near the end of my professional career. It’s a really nice opportunity,” Hutchins said. “I’m 63 years old. I’ve kind of done everything else.”

Football provided Hutchins’ background in sports.

He was an assistant coach at Maine Maritime, Dartmouth and the University of Maine, then coached at Orono and Brewer high schools before relocating to Lewiston.

“It’s a long list,” he said.

Hutchins also admitted that he doesn’t say the name Lee too loudly around the halls at Dirigo. The Cougars lost the 2011 Class C boys’ basketball final to the Pandas, and a team dominated by international players.

Dirigo avenged that defeat in the 2012 final. The Cougars will play Calais at 9 p.m. Saturday at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Hutchins was the fourth different athletic director at the school in less than a decade. Current administrators will handle the duties for the spring season, with a permanent replacement expected in time for the 2015-16 school year.


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