To the Editor:

I would like to congratulate S.A.D. 17 Superintendent Dr. Monica Henson for achieving the impossible: for the first time in the history of this school district nearly all of its teachers are in agreement. Yup, 95% of them gave the good doctor a vote of no confidence.

I taught in the district for 23 years, and I still have a number of contacts who continue to teach there. The people I spoke to mentioned a climate of fear that exists among teachers, the likes of which they have never experienced. In fact, one teacher I spoke to said that though they love the school and the community, if Ms. Henson remains as superintendent, they will be resigning at the end of this school year. (And, yes, I am aware of the pronoun/antecedent issue in the preceding sentence, but the people I spoke to are nervous about being identified, which says everything about the toxic atmosphere Ms. Henson has fostered.)

This is an atmosphere that comes on top of two years of a pandemic that has educators everywhere worn to a frazzle. A recent Forbes article claimed that “48% of teachers admitted that they had considered quitting within the last 30 days. Of that number, 34% said they were thinking of leaving the profession entirely.” (“Why Education Is About To Reach A Crisis Of Epic Proportions,” 1/4/22.)

Teachers in our district are no exception. One person I spoke to said they were uncertain at the beginning of this school year about whether to make this their final year as a teacher. Ms. Henson’s actions have made their decision easier to make: come June, they will leave the profession.

Please remember that S.A.D. 17 is already at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining good teachers. This is, after all, among the lowest paying districts in the state. Does it make sense to give people one more reason to quit?


The most important job of a superintendent is to create an atmosphere in which everyone in the district can flourish. An atmosphere that fosters trust, that makes people feel free to do their best. But what we have is an atmosphere of people looking over their shoulders, wondering if they are on their way out, worried that an email they wrote may find its way into the wrong hands.

Even if it had been only 50% of the faculty who gave Ms. Henson a vote of no confidence, righting the situation without removing her would have been close to impossible. But it was 95%. A majority that large cannot be attributed to a network of “good ole boys” orchestrating a coup.

The best way for the School Board to help our teachers do their jobs is to find a new superintendent.

Jason Trask


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