BAR HARBOR — An overnight retreat last month helped the principals and administrators in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System get to know each other better, they said. The day-and-a-half retreat was held at the Center for Science and Leadership on Hurricane Island in Penobscot Bay.
“It was a wonderful experience, definitely worthwhile,” Mount Desert Elementary School Principal Gloria Delsandro said of the retreat for 14 of the school system administrators, including all eight principals.
School Superintendent Marc Gousse said that every year before school starts, he likes to gather the administrative team together to “reflect on the things that went well the previous year and talk about the challenges for the coming year.”
It was Delsandro’s idea for this year’s gathering to be a retreat at the Hurricane Island facility, which she was familiar with from her 12 years at the school on nearby Vinalhaven, where she was first a teacher and then the principal.
“Our principals do really hard work, good work, and I thought it would be great for us to take a moment to come together as a team and plan for the year ahead,” Delsandro said.
“After being an administrator on an unbridged island in a single-municipality school district, I’m really appreciative of having some peers.
We have a group of principals who really support each other.”
This is Delsandro’s second year as principal at Mount Desert and Rhonda Fortin’s first year as principal at Pemetic Elementary in Southwest Harbor.
“Being the new kid, it was a great opportunity to get to know the other people on the administrative team and ask them questions,” Fortin said of the retreat. “It was nice to be able to have conversations about how we communicate, how we make decisions as a team and what it takes for a group to work together effectively.”
Gousse said part of the retreat was devoted to planning for the new school year.
“We also worked on communication styles; people were able to share how they best communicate,” he said. “It was a good opportunity to bond and for everybody to get to know one another. And we basically did it on a shoestring budget.”
College of the Atlantic provided transportation to and from Hurricane Island on its boat, Osprey, charging only for fuel. The cost of lodging, meals and meeting space at the Center for Science and Leadership was $1,622 for the 14 school administrators.
The cost was split among the schools in the district, and Gousse said most if not all of the schools paid their share with federal Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) grant funds. The Maine Department of Education distributes REAP funds to school districts to support programs for teachers and students.