After 13 years in the Gorham School Department, five of those as assistant superintendent, Christopher Record is looking forward to becoming Cape Elizabeth’s new superintendent on July 1.

Record will succeed Donna Wolfrom, who has led the Cape district since 2017 and will retire at the end of the school year. He was selected after a nationwide search that began in February.

Chris Record, assistant superintendent of schools in Gorham, has been named the new superintendent for the Cape Elizabeth school district. Contributed / Cape Elizabeth School Department

“The Board is confident that Dr. Record will ensure Cape Elizabeth Schools continue in the tradition of high-performing excellence while expanding educational experiences for all students,” the district wrote in its announcement.

Record said Cape Elizabeth’s district embodies the same connection with its students that he sees in Gorham.

“For me, Gorham always had a sense of community,” he said. “Cape Elizabeth takes pride in education and really takes pride in its students.”

Regarding coping with changing pandemic restrictions, Record’s real concern, he said, is that tensions seem to be ramping up everywhere, leading parents and administrators to compare one district’s progress toward ending virtual instruction to that of another. The ill will that often comes out of that, he said, makes problems worse.

“I really want to dissipate that,” he said.

Once the students are back in class in person full time, Record said, he wants to work to assess any lapses or deficits in learning that may have occurred.

“We need to find where students are at and address it,” he said.

Another ongoing issue in all school districts is racism, Record said.

He praised the efforts of the citizen-based advisory groups that formed in Cape Elizabeth following the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide last year.

“This work has to happen,” he said.

In Gorham, Record said, the district has been actively working to address the issue. There has been an increase in training and other professional development opportunities, and he said he plans to ensure that Cape Elizabeth is providing similar opportunities. He also noted an anti-racism policy the Gorham School District put in place in December 2020, the product of work between students, faculty and staff.

“We’re really proud of that,” he said.

The Gorham district also surveyed 300 people, including students, faculty, staff, parents and community members, and invited them to tell stories regarding racism or other forms of discrimination. The results, he said, have been turned into a presentation that is now on a “listening tour.” First presented in March via Zoom at faculty meetings and a parents’ forum, Record said the presentation will continue to make the rounds for staff throughout the district.

“Once we have stories, once we know the truth, then we can begin to address it,” he said.

Record said he has no concrete plans to replicate the survey and presentation in Cape Elizabeth, but he said a similar project may help inspire dialogue and discussion, as it has in Gorham.

“I want to hear what people have to say,” he said.

Wolfrom was on vacation and unavailable for comment this week, but Jennifer Lakari, Wolfrom’s assistant and the district’s director of teaching and learning, confirmed that Wolfrom was retiring. Lakari said there was no official public announcement of the retirement and no official letter to the school board. Board Chairperson Heather Altenburg did not respond to a request for comment before The Forecaster’s deadline.

Record, 48, grew up in Wilton, graduating from Mount Blue High School in 1991. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bates College in 1995 and later earned a master’s in educational leadership and a doctorate in public policy and educational leadership.

After a brief period of working in alternative and special education in North Carolina and Massachusetts, he returned to Maine in 2000, teaching social studies and coaching soccer at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. After four years he became assistant principal there, then moved to Gorham High School as principal in 2008. Eight years later, he became assistant superintendent for the Gorham School District.

He lives in Scarborough with his wife, Mary Record, a health teacher at Scarborough High School, and his son and daughter, who are both students at Scarborough High School.

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