WALES — Regional School Unit 4 has finished a mini hiring spree just in time for the new school year.

The Sabattus, Litchfield and Wales school system hired four new administrators for 2019-20, filling positions left vacant when two people retired and two others moved to new jobs. The new administrators include: Dani Finn, principal at Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield; Samantha Garnett Sias, assistant principal at Oak Hill High School in Wales; Jenny Johnson, assistant principal at Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus; and Nancy Dwyer, school system special education director.

“They have hit the ground running, building relationships with staff, building relationships with kids. All of them have. I’m just really impressed,” RSU 4 Superintendent Andrew Carlton said.

Finn grew up in Hawaii and has been an educator for almost 20 years. She began her career as a high school social studies teacher and varsity soccer coach in North Carolina. She later moved to Georgia to help open a new school. Finn most recently served as an administrator in Vermont, where she was asked to help the community close its 100-year-old preK-12 school.

Dani Finn, the new principal at Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield, poses with third-graders, from left, Grace Wehr, Emma Shaw and Lainey Smith. Photo courtesy Carrie Ricker School

She moved to Maine earlier this year when her husband, Todd Finn, was hired as Lewiston school superintendent. The move brought the couple closer to family.

“Maine is a wonderful place. I feel like home,” Finn said.

She is leading Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield, which has just over 300 students in grades three through five.

“I’m looking forward to taking the phenomenal foundation of an unbelievable staff, culture and community that is here — not only at RSU 4, but Carrie Ricker and Litchfield are a phenomenal place,” Finn said.” I feel like my job is to come in and take them to the next level, give them that injection of energy.”

Finn wants to add lessons on different cultures. However, she plans no other changes for the moment.

“A lot this year is going to be spent getting to know who my students are, who my teachers are,” she said. “I believe, as a leader, that before you can do anything you really have to understand what that culture is and the foundation of that phenomenal culture that exists here. Because I think, as a leader, in order to be able to nurture it and provide what it needs to continue to grow and thrive,  I’ve got to understand what makes it. I have to understand what it’s built upon.”

Samantha Garnett Sias is the new assistant principal for Oak Hill High School in Wales. Photo courtesy Oak Hill High School

Sias is serving as the new assistant principal for the high school, a 400-plus-student school for grades nine through 12. She’s spent more than a decade in education, most recently as a math teacher at Lewiston High School. She’s also held a number of leadership positions on state boards and teachers’ unions.

Sias grew up in the area, but she graduated from rival Lisbon High School.

“People have been really nice about it here,” she said with a laugh.

Johnson, the new middle school assistant principal, worked for RSU 16 in Poland. She most recently served as a teacher in Auburn.

“We were really looking for someone to come in and be a good complement to Ben Wilson, who’s our principal there,” Carlton said. “Someone with a lot of energy, who wants to work with kids, who wants to work with teachers. Jenny is that person.”

Dwyer, the new special education director, has been a special education teacher and administrator in other school systems. She most recently served as assistant special education director for Portland Public Schools.

“She’s got really good skills working with parents, understanding the special ed law. She’s got a real passion for making sure that kids are able to access education and has a real strong background in working with students that struggle with behavior,” Carlton said. “We were really impressed with all of that.”

Carlton called the turnover “a perfect storm,” with two administrators retiring and two others taking new jobs at the same time. But he’s happy with RSU 4’s new additions.

“We had great people to begin with and we have great people now,” he said. “I’m excited for what the year is going to bring. We’ve got some really great kids and really great staff that are doing some cool stuff together.”


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