PARIS — It’s unusual for one person to be able to impact their workplace and community for a generation. It’s even more rare to continue that influence after moving on to new ventures. But that is the future for Oxford Hills’ longtime Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hartnett, PhD.

Longtime Oxford Hills Assistant Superintendent is leaving his job for a professorship, but his presence and influence in Oxford Hills will continue. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Hartnett’s last day with SAD 17 is tomorrow. He has accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Southern Maine as Assistant Professor at its School of Education and Human Development. In his new role at USM, Hartnett will continue to mentor and lead SAD 17’s staff and faculty pursuing post graduate studies, right at the district’s central administration office.

Back in 1993, fresh out of the University of Maine Orono with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Hartnett was recruited by a former Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School history teacher to be a long term American Studies substitute. As the school year came to end, he was hired to take the job over permanently and he earned his Maine teacher certification.

Mentored by then-principal Phil Blood to consider a career as a school administrator, Hartnett went on to achieve his master’s degree in educational leadership and was named Assistant Principal of the high school in 2000. After four years in that role, Hartnett was hired away from Oxford Hills to serve as Leavitt Area High School’s principal in Turner, only to return to Oxford Hills in 2010, this time as Assistant Superintendent of the district.

“It worked out really well for my family,” Hartnett said of coming back to SAD 17. “My kids were at the ages where they were in all kinds of activities. We live in Hebron, which is halfway between Paris and Turner. I was being pulled in the other direction and stretched between events and responsibilities I had as Leavitt’s principal, and my kids’ activities here. This job allowed me to attend district events where my kids were at, which was great.”

Hartnett said that over the years the district has been very supportive of his own continued learning. He pursued his doctorate through the Muskie School of Public Service, earning that degree in 2015 through a program that combined public policy and educational leadership tracks.

“Public policy is determining resources and decisions around that, looking at situations with the public good in mind,” he explained. “Educational can be considered a public good. It’s a natural combination with those two.”

With his own education and background built around leading schools, overseeing policy, personnel and finances, the next natural step was to teach it to others. Hartnett became an adjunct instructor at USM 2016, juggling district responsibilities with teaching graduate courses in educational leadership. Many of his classes were held at UMaine’s satellite site in Paris and many of his pupils were SAD 17 educators and administrators, working on their own post-graduate degrees.

“Each time you move to a new job your role changes,” Hartnett said of his return to that of an educator. “I found myself getting further away from kids, and from teaching. I love the student-teacher relationship and the mentoring piece. That’s the power of it.”

When a permanent, tenure track position opened at USM’s school of education last spring, Hartnett threw his hat in the ring and accepted the position last month. The courses he will teach as an assistant professor will be geared towards preparation for school principals and assistant principals, still holding class locally at Oxford Hills’ administrative center in Paris.

Hartnett also has agreed to continue working with SAD 17 in a consultant role, working with principals and assistants on the district’s internal professional development program for administrators, known as the Leadership Academy.

“It’s teacher leadership,” he explained of his new job. “Geared toward school and district leadership within USM’s master’s program.”

Hartnett lives in Hebron with his wife Tracey, formerly an Oxford Hills educator, and their family. His oldest daughter Hannah recently moved to Portland, his second daughter Maggie is in her first year of study at Guildford College in North Carolina and his son Thomas just started his senior year at OHCHS.

 

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