Over the course of my 33-year career, I have grown accustomed to making tough calls. Throughout my career, whenever a difficult decision has come across my desk, I have always allowed myself to be guided by my instincts, the advice and support of my colleagues, and one simple question: “What’s best for students?”

As an educator, I have been fortunate these guideposts have served me well. In the past few weeks, I have been faced with one of the most difficult decisions I have had to consider in my career, and one that I haven’t had to make in more than 15 years – the decision to begin a new chapter in both my personal and professional life.

As many of you may have heard, I recently was offered, and have accepted, the position of superintendent of schools for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System in Bar Harbor. While I am excited by the opportunities that my future with MDI holds in store, this transition – and the decision to leave Westbrook – has been an emotional one for me. It has given me pause to reflect on my time in this community, and on the second family to whom I must now say goodbye. Before that time arrives, I want to take a moment to let you know how much Westbrook has meant to me over the years, and of the special place it will forever hold in my heart.

When I first arrived in Westbrook, I was a much younger man and the fourth principal of Westbrook High School in five years. While I was proud of my career as an educator and administrator, I knew there was still much for me to learn. As an educator, you learn the true wisdom of the phrase “non scholae, sed vitae discimus” (“we do not learn for school, but for life”). Since that time, Westbrook has been more than just the city in which I have worked; it’s been my home, the place in which I raised my family, and a place for me to reflect and grow. Over the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of witnessing firsthand the successes and challenges, immense growth and achievement of our schools and our community. For me, it has been a time of both personal and professional reflection, growth and accomplishment of which I am very proud and appreciative.

Westbrook is a special place. It’s unique in its celebration of diversity, worldly embrace of music and the arts, and to its core nurtures an unyielding passion for activities and athletics – this, all the while remaining focused and committed to achieving excellence and academic success. What truly makes Westbrook unique is that as much as it calls itself a city, it’s family. Like a family, it experiences many successes, challenges and growth, but at the end of the day, come thick or thin, Westbrook people are always there for one another. And with that, Westbrook has always been there for me, teaching me to reflect and grow.

As I move forward, I want to thank the students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, businesses and elected officials for all of the support they display for the citizens, schools and community that I know and love.

Thank you for your trust, patience and unwavering support throughout the years. Westbrook is indeed a special community and one that I have been blessed to call home.

Marc Gousse will be leaving his job as Westbrook’s superintendent of schools on June 30.

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