Clay Gleason, principal of George E. Jack Elementary School in Standish and Hollis Elementary School, will succeed SAD 6 Superintendent Paul Penna, who is retiring at the end of June. Robert Lowell / American Journal

 The School Administrative District 6 School Board Monday promoted its own in unanimously naming elementary school Principal Clay Gleason as superintendent, a move that drew a standing ovation.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Gleason said.

Gleason will succeed Paul Penna, who retires June 30. He is now the principal of George E. Jack Elementary in Standish and Hollis Elementary School and has worked in the Bonny Eagle district since 2002.

He told the board he would work with Penna to ensure a seamless transition.

“I’m excited to continue to serve the students and staff of the Bonny Eagle School District,” Gleason said, and added he looks forward to working with the school board and district managers.

He told the American Journal his biggest challenges will be continuing Penna’s work in establishing educational pathways for students; looking at facilities and how best to use them; and rising fuel costs’ impact on future budgets.


The school district, one of the state’s largest, includes the Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington and Standish. It has 3,500 students and more than 600 employees. The district has eight schools, including Bonny Eagle High School and Bonny Eagle Middle School.

Gleason will take the reins July 1 with a $142,000 salary.

School Board Vice Chairperson Nathan Carlow, who headed the superintendent search committee, said Gleason’s appointment follows an intense national search.

“I can confirm we received an impressive amount of applications from in state and out of state,” Carlow said Tuesday.

Gleason  has “deep knowledge” of the school system. Carlow said, and “I’m very optimistic about what the future holds for Bonny Eagle.”

Gleason, 49, has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Southern Maine. He completed a superintendent internship through Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.


Before becoming an elementary school principal in 2012, he was the assistant principal at Bonny Eagle Middle School and prior to that was a teacher in Mechanic Falls. He was named a National Distinguished Principal in 2019.

Penna is retiring after five years in the job. His appointment in 2017 followed the departure of Frank Sherburne, who resigned  in 2016 after a nepotism controversy because of the district’s hiring of Sherburne’s son as an education technician at Buxton Center Elementary School.

Gleason’s wife and daughter work for the school district and the SAD 6 board Monday passed an exemption for them from the nepotism policy. Gleason’s wife, Nicole, is an instructional coach at H.B. Emery Jr. Memorial in Limington, and their daughter, Lindsay, is an ed tech at Steep Falls Elementary.

Gleason said he would not have a role in their supervision, passing that duty to Assistant Superintendent Lori Napolitano.

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