School may be out for the summer, but the incoming superintendents in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough have a busy season ahead preparing for students to return to class.

Both Howard Colter, the interim superintendent in Cape, and Julie Kukenberger, the new superintendent in Scarborough, started their new positions last week.

Until the beginning of August, Colter will actually still be working part time for his former school district, the Mount Desert Island regional schools, but said throughout the summer he will “continue to meet with teachers, principals, school board members and community members” in Cape.

He added, “We are busy preparing for the (new) school year and I have several important meetings planned with school district leaders, teachers and the school board.”

In June, Colter also spent a few days in Cape meeting with outgoing Superintendent Meredith Nadeau and Elizabeth Scifres, the School Board chairwoman, along with several members of the town staff, including Police Chief Neil Williams.

“I also was able to visit two summer school programs, along with teachers and students, and I was quite impressed by the teachers and support staff I met,” Colter said.

Overall Colter said, “I am trying to learn all I can about our schools, students and personnel. (Also), I knew coming in that we wanted to devote extra attention to improving communication, trust and morale.”

Kukenberger, the former assistant superintendent of schools in Haverhill, Mass., said her first week in Scarborough went well.

“Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive. I am excited to work with the leadership team, teachers, staff, school board and folks in the town,” she said.

Already, she said, “I have had the opportunity to conduct several informal conversations and have been scheduling entry interviews, which will allow me to better understand the strengths of the community and the school system. With each conversation I am becoming more and more motivated and inspired.”

Her plans for the summer, Kukenberger said, include “making connections and establishing relationships with as many people as possible. I have developed an entry plan that focuses on building public and staff trust through high visibility and open communication.”

She also said, “I will continue to schedule entry interviews with folks who work within the school system and community (and) I have developed a schedule that will allow me to interact and connect with many individuals and groups during the summer months.”

Kukenberger said she’s also working on plans for a “few creative opportunities that will allow me to connect with students, families and community members,” including a school department booth at the upcoming SummerFest, which is scheduled for Aug. 19.

“I am hoping to connect with many Scarborough residents and look forward to listening to each stakeholder’s perspective on what is working well and how we can continue to grow,” she said. “The more I am able to learn about the community, the better I will be able to serve our students and (those) who are invested in their future.”

Both superintendents said that staff, parents and members of the public are welcome to contact their respective offices with any issues or concerns, along with suggestions for change.

“I want people to know that I am here to listen and that I welcome all ideas and observations,” said Colter.

Howard Colter

Julie Kukenberger


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