PARIS – It’s unusual for a single person to be able to impact their workplace and community for a generation. It is even rarer to continue this influence after moving to new companies. But that’s the future of longtime Oxford Hills deputy superintendent Patrick Hartnett, PhD.
Hartnett’s last day with SAD 17 is tomorrow. He accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Southern Maine as an assistant professor in its School of Education and Human Development. In his new role at USM, Hartnett will continue to mentor and direct the staff and faculty of SAD 17 pursuing graduate studies, directly in the district headquarters office.
In 1993, fresh out of the University of Maine Orono with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Hartnett was recruited by a former professor of history at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School to be a long-term replacement for American Studies. At the end of the school year, he was hired to take the job on a permanent basis and obtained his teacher certification from Maine.
Mentored by then-principal Phil Blood to consider a career as a school administrator, Hartnett earned his Masters in Educational Leadership and was appointed Deputy Principal of the High School in 2000. After four years in the role, Hartnett was hired from Oxford Hills to serve as principal of Leavitt Area High School in Turner, returning to Oxford Hills in 2010, this time as deputy district superintendent.
“It worked really well for my family,” Hartnett said of his return to SAD 17. “My children were of the age where they were involved in all kinds of activities. We live in Hebron, halfway between Paris and Turner. I was pulled the other way and stretched between the events and responsibilities I had as a director of Leavitt and my children’s activities here. This job has allowed me to attend events district where my kids were, which was great.
Hartnett said that over the years the district has been very supportive of its own lifelong learning. He continued his doctorate at the Muskie School of Public Service, earning this degree in 2015 through a program that combined public policy and educational leadership tracks.
“Public policy determines resources and decisions about it, looking at situations with the public good in mind,” he explained. “Education can be viewed as a public good. It’s a natural combination with these two.
With her own education and background built around great schools, overseeing politics, personnel, and finance, the next natural step was to teach it to others. Hartnett became an Assistant Instructor at USM 2016, juggling district responsibilities and teaching postgraduate courses in educational leadership. Many of his classes were held at UMaine’s satellite site in Paris and many of his students were SAD 17 educators and administrators, working on their own postgraduate degrees.
“Every time you change jobs, your role changes,” Hartnett said of his return to being an educator. “I found myself moving further away from the kids and from teaching. I enjoy the student-teacher relationship and the mentorship. That’s the power of it.
When a permanent tenure-track position opened at USM’s School of Education last spring, Hartnett threw his hat in the ring and accepted the position last month. The courses he will teach as an assistant professor will focus on preparing principals and vice-principals, who still teach locally at the Oxford Hills Administrative Center in Paris.
Hartnett also agreed to continue working with SAD 17 in a consultant role, working with directors and assistants on the district’s internal professional development program for administrators, known as the Leadership Academy.
“It’s teacher leadership,” he explained of his new job. “Intended for school and district leadership within the USM Masters program.”
Hartnett lives in Hebron with his wife Tracey, formerly an educator in Oxford Hills, and their family. Her eldest daughter Hannah recently moved to Portland, her second daughter Maggie is in her freshman year at Guildford College in North Carolina, and her son Thomas has just started his senior year at OHCHS.
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