REGION — In less than a month, SAD 44 voters will choose school board directors for the towns of Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock.

Voting will take place Tuesday, July 14, with polling places at The Bethel Legion, Greenwood Legion, Newry Town Office and Woodstock Town Office. People can vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to vote on the 14th.

In Bethel, three candidates are vying for two open seats on the board. Running are David Jones, Stephanie Herbeck and Maggie Davis. All three candidates have not previously served on the board.

Bethel board members Amy Forbes DeVivo and John Walker are not seeking re-election.

Walker briefly served as the board’s chair last year.

In Greenwood, incumbent Chasity Lake is running unopposed for a three-year term.

Incumbent Marcel Polak and newcomer Wendy Coffin, both of Woodstock, are running for one open seat on the board. The term is for three years.

In Newry Bonnie Largess and Stephanie Erickson are running for the two open seats. Largess is running for a three-year term and Erickson is running for a one-year term.

An online School Board Forum, where people can meet all the candidates, will be held on Tuesday, July 7, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The event will be hosted by CORE (formerly known as Bethel Area Nonprofit Collaborative).

Anyone with questions for candidates can submit them to [email protected]

(Candidate profiles for Chasity Lake and Maggie Davis can be seen in last week’s Bethel Citizen.


David Jones

David Jones. Submitted photo.

Town: Bethel

Years on board: Has not previously served on board.

Goals: The SAD 44 community needs to know more. Teachers, staff, and administrators need support and encouragement. Students deserve the opportunities that come with the best possible education. Plans to build on SAD 44’s strengths and address its weaknesses need to be developed, publicized, and executed. I’ll aim for that.

Background in education: I’ve been in the education business for fifty years: teaching, administering, advising; serving on committees, boards, and councils. I write about education, currently for The Bethel Citizen. Recently I’ve been substituting at Telstar, and teaching history and college composition at White Mountains Community College and the South Paris and Rumford Centers of The University of Maine at Augusta.

Other info: I read a lot, walk a lot, and sit on the Recreation Board.

Stephanie Herbeck:

Stephanie Herbeck.

Town: Bethel

Years on Board:  Has not previously served on board.

Goals: My motivation is simple. I am interested in learning more about the decisions and challenges each of the different schools in the district face, as well as the opportunities available for improvement

Background in education: I have no formal background in education and no experience with the school board.  I’m a community member and parent of two SAD44 students looking to see what I can bring to the table in an effort to support other students and families throughout their academic experience in the SAD44 school district.

Other info: I have two SAD 44 students, one at Crescent Park and one at Telstar Middle School, and decided this would be a great time to get involved on this level. I have always been active on a volunteer level (in classrooms as well as helping to organize events, book fairs etc) and have been a troop leader with The Girl Scouts of Maine after school at CPS for 7 years and counting.  I love being an active participant in the community outside of school as well and am currently a member of Bethel Area Arts & Music (BAAM) and have organized and led the annual Light Up Main Street/Jingle Bell Walk through town for the past few years.  I have also done some work for Region 9 School of Applied Technology to help highlight the great programs they offer our students, as well as some of the many Region 9 success stories.

Marcel Polak

Marcel Polak. Submitted photo.

Town: Woodstock. 

Years on board: 

I’ve been honored to serve on the school board for about 30 years. I’ve decided to run again because in this unprecedented challenging time for education, I offer stability and strong experience. During my tenure on the school board I have supported many innovations and have adapted to the changing needs of our students. For example, I fully supported SAD 44 Board of Directorsbudgets for the past 20 years that implemented our districts commitment to computer technology. Our long term goal that every K-12 student have individual access to a computer has paid off in so many ways including being extremely well prepared for transitioning to long distance learning during this pandemic.

I want to prepare our students to be successful in different employment opportunities, locally, nationally, and internationally and to actively engage in civic life in their communities. My diverse career in the Bethel area, from waiter to potter to conservation consultant to real estate broker exemplifies the need to adapt.

Goals: My primary goal is to work with the SAD 44 Board of Directors, administration and teachers to maintain the safety and health of our students and staff during the pandemic while ensuring that our students have the best learning opportunities possible.

With my experience as a history major for my B.A. I want to continue reviewing and approving the social studies curriculum to make sure that it is relevant to our students. I especially want to make sure that our curriculum includes components on historical racism in Maine and the US so that our students can learn from history and work for equality and justice for all Americans.

I want to continue working to develop meaningful outdoor education opportunities for our students to connect them to the extraordinary natural areas in our community and to benefit from the many employment opportunities in outdoor education locally, in Maine, and internationally.

Background in education:

Graduate credits in outdoor education
Teacher – naturalist at two outdoor education centers
Director of outdoor education center
Developed and taught energy education curriculum at Woodstock Elementary school
Substitute teacher
Mentor, North Star Program
M.S. Resource Management and Administration

Other info:  I presently serve on the Board of Directors of the University of Maine 4H Learning Center at Bryant Pond. My other interests are reading extensively, gardening, hiking mountain peaks, cross country skiing, and kayaking.

Wendy Coffin

Wendy Coffin. Submitted photo.

Town: Woodstock

Years on board: I have not been on the school board before and I am running because I think the district needs new voices to hear the concerns of the citizens.

Goals: My initial goal if elected to sit on the school board are to hear the concerns of the citizens of the district and Woodstock particularly.  Since I have not yet sat on this board it will take an initial phase of learning how this board is governed and how I can help.  I believe it is important to recognize what issues are truly important and my belief is that the children of the district should be the primary focus in the education process.

Background in education: Over the past three years I have home schooled our daughter and I think in this climate of change we may see an increase in homeschooling.  Those parents and children also need a voice at the district level.  About ten years ago I also did some substitute teaching here in the district.

Other info: As for my interests outside of school; our family has a small farm and I am a massage therapist.  I appreciate the opportunity to work with the school board to better our children’s education.

Bonnie Largess

Bonnie Largess. Submitted photo.

Town: Newry

Years on board: This will be her 14th year on the board and she served as its chair last year after member John Walker resigned from the position.

Goals: I feel giving back to the community is important and school is the heart of our community. I believe all children deserve a great education.

Background in education: I would like to continue being a member of the school board to keep the creative programs for our students and education opportunities that fit all students needs and to support our teachers and administrators.

Other info: I enjoy horse back riding  and all outside activities that western Maine has to offer.






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