Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 10, 2017
DISES principal joins new administrative team
by Monique Labbe
The elementary and middle school grades are not foreign to new Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School principal Tara McKechnie. In her 20-plus years of education experience, she has taught every grade from kindergarten to eighth grade.
“I think that’s one of the things I really bring to the table in our administrative team, that elementary experience,” said McKechnie. “There are good things going on here already, and I think with this new [administrative] format we’ll be able to keep those things progressing.”
McKechnie began her teaching career in 1994 as a kindergarten teacher at Blue Hill Consolidated School. She remained at the school in one classroom or another during her entire career. At this point, she said, it seems like the “perfect time” to move into an administrative role.
In addition to classroom teaching, McKechnie has served as the Literacy Consultant for Union 76, was an ELA Curriculum Development Leader and a MaineSTEM partner, traveling throughout the state to help implement STEM learning at various schools.
“I think everything I’ve done sort of ties it all together for me,” she said.
While McKechnie has spent her entire career in the classroom forming connections with her students, she said she does not feel as though she will miss out on any of those connections as a principal.
“I think it will just be a different way of forming those connections,” she said. “I’ll get to watch the kids grow from grade to grade, so it will be more of a longterm connection. I’ll just have a different impact.”
One of the things McKechnie is most looking forward to is the idea of teamwork within the administrative teams in the district and Union 76.
“I think the union is really trying to make this shift toward a teamwork approach between all the school administrations,” she said. “Working together will give us an added layer of support.”
Within the district, McKechnie said she is excited to work with Deer Isle-Stonington High School principal Ed Hatch and Head of Schools Lynne Witham, both of whom were hired over the summer.
“I think we all bring something different to the team,” she said. “[Hatch] comes from a high school background and [Witham] brings the adult education portion. I think in working together we’ll be able to give the students consistency and set clear expectations. Everyone will be using the same ideas.”
The school year is set to begin August 31, and McKechnie said she “cannot wait” for the first day of school.
“I love this school, and I’m looking forward to seeing it full of children and see the atmosphere really light up,” she said.