PARIS — School Administrative District 17 Superintendent Richard Colpitts has been named Superintendent of the Year “by a vote of his colleagues,” according to a news release from the Maine School Management Association.

Colpitts, of Peru, has been superintendent of the eight-town district in Oxford Hills for the past five years. Before that he was assistant superintendent.

“I’m very honored to be able to represent superintendents across the state,” Colpitts said in response to the announcement. He said it’s a rewarding — if not lonely — profession. 

The award is an honor that recognizes his work in supporting teachers and administrators to help all students achieve, according to the release.

Colpitts juggles a lot in his life to maintain both a solid family foundation and excellence in his profession, according to the release. He has eight children with his wife, Marilee, who he attributed much of his success to. “I owe her a lot,” Colpitts added. “She has been a wonderful companion.”

Marilee works with His Hands Ministries to support children in places such as Rwanda, Haiti and the Philippines. 

According to the news release, Colpitts credited his ability to get things done by surrounding himself with good people.

He takes particular pride in the district’s success with connecting students to the business community to be actively involved with the work.

“Education should be messy – a mixture of theory and practical application,” he said “These partnerships enable our students to experience how skills learned in class are applicable to the real world.”

Colpitts said the most rewarding part of his job is working with “the smartest people he knows,” including students and faculty, board members, parents, and civic leaders and politicians.

He said the most difficult aspect is mostly financial support. As state aid to education in SAD 17 drops, the communities must increase their support.

The district includes the towns of Paris, Norway, Oxford, Otisfield, Harrison, Waterford, West Paris and Hebron. 

Colpitts is thankful for the community support, citing a commitment to local education in rural Maine that is “both strong and powerful.” 

“I feel very fortunate,” he said. “I work in a wonderful school district with communities who really want their kids to succeed.” 

Colpitts was nominated by SAD 44 Superintendent David Murphy of Bethel, who described him as someone who has earned a stellar reputation as a leader and an “out-of-the-box” thinker.

“Maine and the nation would be fortunate to be represented by a superintendent of schools like Rick Colpitts,” Murphy said.

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