Sally Loughlin will serve as interim principal at the Mabel I. Wilson School in Cumberland. The elementary school has exceeded its capacity; a third portable classroom will be brought in to handle the overflow.

CUMBERLAND — Sally Loughlin has had her fair share of titles during her nine years as an administrator in School Administrative District 51.

She started as director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development, a title later shortened to director of academic services. And for the next year the Freeport woman will serve as interim principal at the Mabel I. Wilson School, which has pre-kindergarten through third grade students.

“Our interview process for the principal had not gotten where we’d wanted to go, and the time didn’t feel right to try again,” Loughlin said June 27, four days before assuming the role. She will work with a search team, most likely starting early next year, to find a permanent principal to begin July 1, 2020.

“It is still true that we have excellent people willing to step forward and serve as administrators,” Loughlin said. “It’s also true that there are fewer of them.”

Loughlin replaces Susie Robbins, who will temporarily take on Loughlin’s role. Robbins – who was assistant principal there from 1998-2004 and principal from 2004-2010, before assuming the head role once again in January 2016 – stepped down to follow other academic pursuits, Loughlin said, and was approached by the district to help out for another year. The SAD 51 Board of Directors approved the two appointments in June.

“What’s wonderful for both of us is, we both taught together in Gorham, then we were working together here and we did that other partnership,” Loughlin said. “So we see ourselves conferring (with) and supporting each other throughout the year.”

Prior to her time with SAD 51 – for which she was interim superintendent in 2013-2014, after the departure of Bob Hasson and hiring of Jeff Porter – Loughlin spent 2004-2010 as assistant superintendent in Topsham-area School Administrative District 75. She began her education career in 1987 as a third grade teacher in Gorham; that was followed by time as a curriculum director for Portland Public Schools.

Having already served in an interim leadership role with SAD 51, “I was ready for the likelihood that that would be a request coming my way again, and this one was just a thrill,” Loughlin said of taking the reins of the Wilson school.

“This is a powerhouse staff, and I’m not talking about just the teachers,” she said. “… I just hope I can honor them with not disrupting, and supporting, the things that they are already (doing).”

One major planning effort on Loughlin’s horizon will be what to do about a school that has exceeded capacity. The two-decade-old Wilson school has a capacity of about 600 students, yet an expected enrollment this fall of 671, which includes a new pre-kindergarten class of about 30. Three portable classrooms will hold about 80 students, Loughlin said.

“Part of my role … is, how do we support the Mabel I. Wilson School to exist in a positive and proactive manner, as we know we are crunched for space,” she noted.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district’s K-5 Task Force, which began convening this spring and includes Loughlin and Robbins, has been exploring an array of options. Ideas include an early childhood center either on the campus or in North Yarmouth, as well as an intermediate school for third graders built onto Greely Middle School, where a section for fourth and fifth grades was completed in 2014.

“The models ask, where should the expansion occur,” she explained, noting the committee has looked at 11 options. “… There’s a wide range.”

The committee aims in the months ahead to determine “where is that new facility, or what is that new enhancement,” and have a proposed bond go to voters in time for the November 2020 presidential election, Loughlin said.

The 58-year-old, who is married and has two grown children, said, “I have had a really wonderful career; I have a few years that I’m really excited about working, and then I will be excited for retirement.”

Before that happens, Loughlin has a “punch list” of things to accomplish in order to help improve SAD 51, such as completing a major literacy review. “I’m pretty passionate about some of the things we’re working on,” she said.

And of course, there are those passions at home.

“It’s funny, but anyone who knows me, I am a dog-aholic,” Loughlin said with a smile. “Which I should not say, because I have three dogs and three cats.”

“I always tell people my future, when I retire, I’ll be working to reform the prisons and do doggie daycare,” she added. “That would be my idea of the greatest future ever.”


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