Robert Riley at his desk in 2007, when he became the principal at Gorham Middle School. File photo/American Journal

GORHAM – Robert Riley won’t be roaming the halls of Gorham Middle School this summer prepping for another school year this fall.

After serving as principal of the school for the past 12 years, Riley retired in June.

“My summer will be extended,” he said in a telephone interview earlier this month.

In 2007, Riley became the second principal at the school that opened in 2003. He will be succeeded by Quinton Donahue, former principal at Mt.View Middle School in Thorndike.

Riley has met with Donahue and hopes to also have lunch with him. “He seems like a wonderful guy,” Riley said.

The bonus Riley reaped through the years in education, he said, was the relationships he cultivated. “It’s a privilege to work in the field,” he said about education.

Gorham Superintendent Heather Perry said Riley built positive relationships with staff, parents and students, as well as his colleagues. “He always measured every decision based upon what he felt was best for the students he served,” Perry said. “His leadership, his generosity, and his passion for serving children will surely be missed.”

Riley said he saw potential in every kid he ever met. “There are no bad kids,” he said. “Some kids act out because they feel safe.”

Perry said he measured every decision based “upon what he felt was best for the students he served.”

Among many initiatives he instituted at Gorham Middle School was a staff-student advisory program. Every student had an adviser and every adult, including Riley, had a group of students. “I got an opportunity to meet some terrific kids,” he said.

Riley transitioned to Gorham Middle School from Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield, where he was principal. Perry said Riley instituted a true middle school philosophy in Gorham.

Perry said Riley developed schedules, team structures, advisories and an overall climate that focused on meeting the needs of the district’s middle-level learners.

During his career, Riley was a classroom teacher and an ice hockey coach at several schools, including New England University, Thornton Academy and Cheverus High School.

One former player, Matthew Libby, a Portland attorney, played four years of professional hockey, including two with the Portland Pirates. “I remember my days playing for Coach Riley at Thornton Academy fondly, except for the 11 p.m. practices,” Libby said.

Libby said Riley did a “great job” building the academy’s hockey program from its infancy.

Riley had high expectations of his players, Libby said, and demanded their best. “He often joked with the players and we sensed his appreciation for us and the game, Libby said. “The players played hard for him.”

Since retiring from Gorham Middle School, Riley visited his three grandchildren in California, plays golf and has been busy working on his home in Saco.

“I have lots of projects,” he said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.