Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 19, 2018
New DISHS principal brings optimism to school
by Monique Labbe
Dennis Duquette is ready to bring some enthusiasm and energy to Deer Isle-Stonington High School as the school’s new principal.
Duquette started his new job on July 16 and met with various staff and administrators. He is looking forward to continuing to meet his staff throughout the summer he said.
“Collaboration is very important to me,” he said. “I want the teachers to know that I am here to support them, to work with them, and to offer them any sort of help I can.”
One of his first priorities is to turn his energy toward the outside of the building, which he said is in need of a little care. He plans to weed the garden in the quad himself, do some painting and fix other cosmetic issues that may have fallen through the cracks.
“I think it’s very important that the outside matches the inside,” he said. “When you walk into the school, it’s well taken care of, it feels respected. I want the outside to mirror that.”
Duquette said he has had conversations about the project with staff members, who said they, as well as some parents and students, would be “more than willing” to lend a hand.
Duquette has amassed an educational career that spans several decades. He began his career as a history teacher, then taught language arts before moving into the administrative side of education. He has served as a vice principal and principal at the high school level, as well as in the role of superintendent, mostly in the state of Massachusetts.
Duquette also spent time in management roles outside of education, with companies such as American Oil Change and, most recently, Peter Pan bus lines, a job he finished up just last week.
“I told my boss at Peter Pan, I love my job, but I didn’t feel like I had a purpose,” he said. “When I’m in education, I have a purpose; I get to help kids, teach them and support them. I knew I wanted to get back to that.”
The itch to come back to education, coupled with the fact that he and his wife “love the area” and have camped around the island on several occasions, drove him to apply for the principal position at Deer Isle-Stonington. Now that he is here, he said he is looking forward to bringing positivity and a sense of pride and respect to the school.
“I want the kids to know that if they have a problem, Mr. Duquette is available,” he said. “Likewise, I want them to take pride in their school, and have positive interactions and experiences every day. I want to be able to offer them as much as we can, with the funding that we have to do it with.”
Duquette added that having an optimistic outlook moving forward into the school year is important, so that the students will feel a positive atmosphere while they are at school.
“It’s like putting a plug on a leak,” Duquette said. “You want to plug the leak right away, so that you can then start to fix whatever is causing that leak permanently. Whatever issues or negative thoughts are going on in this school, I want to plug that leak, and then start to fix it.”