Teachers, education technicians and support staff from the middle school surround teacher Rachel Toner as she reads a letter in support of their principal, Caroline “Carrie” Luce to the Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors Thursday, June 9, at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Teachers, education technicians and support staff stood behind their principal, Caroline “Carrie” Luce, at the Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, June 9.

As the group stood behind the podium in the cafeteria of Spruce Mountain High School teacher Rachel Toner read a letter to directors. “Being a principal is undoubtedly a difficult and sometimes thankless job – especially in light of last week’s safety threats,” she read. “Combine this with a multi-year pandemic, a volatile political climate, and the prevalence of social media, and it’s very easy for people to place blame on those in charge.

“Both recently and throughout the year, there  have been instances when [Luce] has been targeted with verbal abuse. At times she is berated with swears and insults that are simply disgusting, and in those moments I’m sure it is easy for her to feel alone. That’s where we come in. From our point of view, Spruce Mountain Middle School would be an entirely different place without [Luce] – but it would not be a better one. We can say this unequivocally and without hesitation. She is our leader, our advocate, and our co-pilot.”

At the May 26 Board of Directors meeting several eight grade students and parents of eighth graders expressed concern about the format for the promotion recognition that had been planned this year. Luce and members of the promotion planning committee met the following week, took those concerns under advisement and made changes to the parade.

After middle school principal Scott Albert was named superintendent another principal was hired who was not as capable, Toner wrote. Before Luce was hired staff wrote to the board expressing concerns with climate, safety and student behavior at the school and staff feeling unsupported, she continued.

“In the short amount of time since [Luce] took the reins, however, our school has taken a much more positive direction,” Toner read. “To think that we are fortunate enough to have a principal like her, in only her second year since leaving the classroom is a blessing to our small, rural community. We know how different it could be and worry that without the support of staff and school board alike, our district will lose her.”


Luce welcomes students to school each day which makes her approachable to the student body, Toner noted. Students trust her and some of the toughest ones respect her, Luce doesn’t accept inappropriate behavior, takes concerns about student safety seriously and doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations, Toner continued.

Luce is dedicated to finding creative solutions to conflict which is so important at the middle school level, Toner read.

“A principal’s day-to-day duties are tenfold, yet [Luce] still manages to have a vision for the future of our school, whether it be leading our transformation to a restorative school, offering new exploratory options for kids, or starting a student-assistance-team,” Toner said. “[Luce] makes sure to be transparent with her vision and communicates all changes and upcoming events in a professional and informative manner through weekly email updates. As a staff knowing that our school has a competent leader with a positive vision for our future takes away a lot of stress from the unknown.”

Luce’s support for the staff has helped inspire numerous positive changes at the school, Toner noted. She thinks outside the box, embraces change leading to approval of a mentoring program for students who need a caring adult, a free clothing store at the school and a student-inspired food cupboard, she continued.

“[Luce] has shown us time and again she has what it takes to make our school something special, never more so than in the past week,” Toner continued. “With Thursday’s bomb threat and Friday’s lockdown, her leadership in the moment and empathy afterward enabled staff and students to stay safe and calm. She kept us as informed as possible and debriefed us immediately afterwards. She dealt with parents, police, and employees in a professional manner and also made time to connect with students upon their return this week.”

“Our district needs to find, nurture, and keep strong leaders and from our perspective, [Luce] is one of the best. [She] has had our back all along and it’s time for us to step up and have hers.”

The letter Toner read was signed by herself and 40 other staff from the middle school. The district website lists 64 staff at the middle school not counting Luce.

“I’m absolutely humbled and overwhelmed with your confidence in me,” Luce said later during her report. “You give me courage and hope and the strength to face each day and I thank you for that.”

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