LEWISTON – Cindy Gish, assistant principal at Montello Elementary School, will become the next principal at Geiger Elementary School this fall, succeeding David Bartlett who is retiring.

Meanwhile Sue Martin, who has served as English Language Learner and now as the School Department’s chief academic officer, is also retiring in June.

“Sue Martin and Dave Bartlett are both longtime educators in Lewiston,” Superintendent Bill Webster said. “Both have contributed so much to our growth as a district and improvement in student learning. They will be greatly missed.”

Montello Principal James Cliffe, who’s worked with Gish for two years, said Geiger will be in good hands when she takes over.

“She will do a great job,” Cliffe said. He credited her with having enthusiasm, a strong knowledge of curriculum and a children-first approach. “She cares about staff and pushes them to be the very best,” he said. “And she’s a great listener.”

Gish is Lewiston’s most experienced assistant principal and has been active in a number of district initiatives, Webster said. “By all accounts she is ready to become a school principal.”

Gish, 41, said she was initially surprised to learn she had been chosen for the job, “but I’m very excited. I have mixed emotions. I love what we’ve been doing here at Montello. It will be very hard to leave.”

Before becoming assistant principal at Montello, she was assistant principal at McMahon Elementary School and before that a McMahon first-grade teacher for 11 years.

Gish grew up in Lewiston and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1992. She graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

She said she’ll approach being Geiger principal “doing what’s in the best interest of students. I’ll try my best and hope I can make positive changes.”

Montello teacher Jessica Hartford said she and others were devastated to hear Gish was leaving. “Jim and Cindy go above and beyond your average administrators,” Hartford said. Having taught at Montello for seven years, Hartford said she’s seen dozens of people for other careers. Losing an advocate like Gish makes it more difficult “for those of us who choose to stay,” Hartford said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Montello is in its second year of a school improvement plan, which means changes in curriculum, professional development and teacher coaching. In addition to updated classroom instruction, there’s more technology with iPads and Apple TVs in classrooms.

Bartlett started his career teaching sixth grade at Cottrell School in Monmouth. He taught several grades over the next decade, became a teaching assistant principal, served as curriculum coordinator and gifted and talented teacher.

In 1989, he became principal of the new Monmouth Middle School, then came to Lewiston as principal of Pettingill School. In 2009, he became principal at Geiger when it opened.

“There is much that I am proud of in my career,” including opening of the two new schools “and bringing people together for that purpose,” Bartlett said. “In both cases, staff from two schools were being combined. Creating something new involves change, which is challenging.”

Being principal means advocating for students while supporting teachers, he said. He’s worked to “enable teachers to do their job to the best possible extent, given the resources the community provides.”

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