PORTLAND — After nearly three decades at the helm of King Middle School, Principal Michael McCarthy is retiring.

McCarthy, who has been principal at the 92 Deering Ave. school since 1988, announced last week that he would step down effective Sept. 1. A search for his replacement is underway.

In a press release from the School Department, McCarthy said he has been honored to serve at King, and noted its “outstanding faculty, great kids, and supportive parents.”

“The time to step aside is not when a ship is sinking, but when it is functioning at full steam,” McCarthy said. “We have all the solid teacher leadership and great vision for the best for kids in place. I am very proud of what we have accomplished at King.”

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk said McCarthy is an “outstanding educational leader who will be missed.”

“Mike came in with a vision for King Middle School and the work he did there with staff really transformed not only King, but also has made a lasting impact on public education, not just in our district, but nationally,” Caulk said.

Caulk is also leaving the Portland Public Schools. He was recently named superintendent of the 40,000-student Fayette County Public School System in Lexington, Kentucky. A search is underway for Caulk’s replacement, and the School Board named Jeanne Crocker interim superintendent as of Aug. 1.

King is an Expeditionary Learning school, where students engage in eight-to 12-week experiential learning projects. McCarthy is credited with having transformed the school from one with a reputation for violence and low expectations into what it is today.

In 2010 he was named Maine’s Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Maine Principals’ Association. That year he was also a finalist for National Principal of the Year. In 1996, he was named Maine’s Principal of the Year. The following year he was a finalist for the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ National Principal of the Year award.

McCarthy was principal of Bonny Eagle Middle School in West Buxton from 1980 to 1988 and assistant principal at Waterville High School from 1977 to 1980. From 1973 to 1977, he taught at Roberts Junior High School in Medford, Massachusetts.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements

Michael McCarthy, who has been the principal at King Middle School in Portland for 27 years, will retire on Sept. 1.

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