Maine School Administrative District 75’s newest interim superintendent — the sixth person to fill the position in the past six years — hopes to spend her time in the role building unity and encouraging stability.

The district’s board appointed Special Education Director Heidi O’Leary as interim superintendent at a board meeting earlier this month.

O’Leary is a Mt. Ararat High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s in education from New England College, where she expects to receive her doctorate this spring. The Harpswell native has served as SAD 75’s special education director for the past six years.

Heidi O’Leary J. Craig Anderson / Harpswell Anchor

On July 1, she will replace current Superintendent Steven Connolly, who announced his resignation in February after serving one year. In his resignation letter, Connolly cited political divisions in the district as the reason for his departure.

In recent years, the school district’s four towns — Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham — have endured repeated leadership changes at both the administrative and school board levels.

Before Connolly stepped into the role, Robert Lucy served as interim superintendent. He followed former Superintendent Shawn Chabot who was called to active duty with the Maine National Guard in February 2021. Chabot replaced former superintendent Brad Smith who retired in June 2018. Interim Superintendent Dan Chuta was prepared to assume the role after Smith before being named Maine’s deputy education commissioner in February 2019.


Despite the revolving door of administrators, O’Leary said she feels confident she can unite the district.

“I believe that building strong relationships with members of the school board, district staff and community leaders is essential to creating a stable and supportive environment,” O’Leary said. “I plan to meet with these stakeholders regularly to listen to their concerns, address their questions and work collaboratively to find solutions.”

O’Leary said transparency is critical in building trust throughout the district and plans to keep the community informed of SAD 75 initiatives, policies and decisions while making herself available to address questions and concerns. In addition to communication, O’Leary said she wants to improve student success by increasing access to technology and providing more professional development opportunities for teachers.

O’Leary said she is still familiarizing herself with the district’s operations but found many positive elements. She applauded past administrators for creating a safe learning environment by conducting regular safety drills, offering mental health services, and emphasizing equality and inclusion with programs like THRIVE — a diversity and inclusion committee established by Connolly.

She said areas that need improvement are communication with stakeholders, collaboration with the community and better strategic planning.

“I look forward to working with district staff, parents and community members to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to address these challenges,” O’Leary said.

Comments are not available on this story.