RUMFORD — Spending time with children and grandchildren is the key to helping them become successful — a philosophy Rumford Elementary School Principal Christopher Decker, 59, has followed during his 35 years in education.

Decker plans to retire at the end of this school year, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be completely out of education.

Once he settles into retirement and he and his wife, Debra, do some traveling, he expects he’ll return to the classroom as a volunteer.

“I was inspired by a teacher to go into teaching,” he said. “My older sister also inspired me with her zest for life and how she learned as much as she could.”

Decker, a Jay High School and University of Maine graduate, has served as principal at Rumford Elementary School for four years. Prior to that, he was assistant principal at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, assistant principal and athletic director at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, and a teacher at Turner Elementary School.

He worked for two years in a shoe shop.


“I didn’t have a particularly good experience in elementary school,” he said. “That affected my decision to become a teacher. I wanted to be someone to help others. I’m passionate about helping people.”

Over the years, Decker has participated in or led the Keeping Students Safe program at Mountain Valley High School, maintained the Renaissance Program at the middle school, and participated in the Aspirations Project at the elementary level.

Decker has also served as coach for various sports and officiated at football games throughout the state.

Although he has taught virtually every grade level, he doesn’t have a favorite.

“Each one has its own pluses,” he said. “I love the relationships with high school students, the innocence at the elementary level. It takes a special person to teach at the middle school level.”

Decker and his wife are the parents of two sons, and grandparents of two girls.

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