Leavitt Area High School Principal Eben Shaw has been named the Maine Principals’ Association Principal of the Year. He took the position at the Turner school in 2010. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

TURNER — Eben Shaw embodies the values of generosity, humility and creative problem-solving, according to the Maine Principals’ Association.

The MPA named the Leavitt Area High School administrator Principal of the Year earlier this month.

“I was super surprised,” Shaw said in a recent phone interview. “You could have knocked me off my chair with a feather.”

When it comes to problem-solving, he said, it’s a collaborative process.

“There are very few things I do here by myself,” he said. “When I’m looking at solving a problem, I put people together and they put their heads together.”

Or he might throw it out to all staff to get all ideas on the table, he said.

That process can be “super amazing,” he said.

He appreciates the MPA’s kudos, but “it’s really an indication of the work everyone does here.” The school serves 525 students from Turner, Greene and Leeds.

The MPA also cited Shaw for “implementing mindfulness processes for stress.”

One of the school’s goals this year was to attend to the mental and physical health of students, he said.

“I see in classrooms some start class with a mindful minute,” he said. “Clear your mind. Take 60 seconds and let it go.”

Staff also practices mindfulness in group meetings and yoga has been offered during professional development days, he said.

The MPA also noted that Shaw provides many club opportunities for students.

He agreed that the school has a “pretty comprehensive offering” for students to get involved, whether it’s joining a club or volunteering to tutor middle and elementary school students or mentoring classmates.

Shaw sees his role as helping to facilitate opportunities.

That can lead to success, he said.

Not being narrow-focused allows the school to support students no matter what their interest is, he said.

For example, some Leavitt students were interested in getting commercial truck driver licenses. The Lewiston Regional Technical Center to which Leavitt sends its tech students did not offer it, so Shaw looked to the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico.

“We were able to work through some potholes (transportation and tuition) and send students up there for the first time,” he said.

The MPA also cited Shaw for grit, positivity, adaptability and deep caring for his staff and students.

“Principal Shaw has dedicated his professional life to his community, and his celebration of students and staff through multiple platforms is a testament to the relationships he has fostered at Leavitt Area High School,” according to Holly Couturier, executive director of the MPA’s professional division.

Shaw, a former science teacher at Auburn Middle School, returned to Leavitt, the high school from which he graduated, in 2000. He taught science there until 2007, when he became assistant principal. He has served as principal since 2010.

He is the second Leavitt Area High School principal to be named Principal of the Year in the past 11 years. Patrick Hartnett won the honor in 2009.

According to the MPA website, criteria in the nominating process include that the nominee must:

  • Be an active principal serving for at least five years.
  • Show a clear commitment to excellence.
  • Be respected by students, colleagues, parents and the community at large.
  • Set high expectations for students and staff.

Winners represent Maine at the annual National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Institute, typically held in the fall in Washington, D.C.

The Maine Principals’ Association is a professional association representing Maine’s K-12 principals, assistant principals, and career and technology center directors.


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