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Longtime principal Beverly Dupont to retire

Photo by Jeff Woodburn Retiring Principal Beverly Dupont surrounded by members of the 7th and 8th grade student council first row from the left, Robyn Parker, Julie Downs, Rylie Binette, Renee Morrisette, second row, Tim Glover, Cory Fauteux, Kayleigh Eastman and Julianne Plourde. (click for larger version)
November 30, 2011
BERLIN - Except for a brief childhood aspiration to be a Catholic bishop, Beverly Dupont always wanted to be a teacher.

"I always played school," she said, "I was destined to become a leader."

Now 39 years later, Dupont, a long-time Berlin School District principal, is planning to retire at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

"I'm tired," she said.

It's easy to see why, Dupont has led four separate schools, some of them simultaneously. Since 2001, she has been the principal of the Berlin Junior High School (grades 7 and 8) and Hillside School (grades 4-6). Previously, she was the top administrator of the Bartlett School (which included teaching duties as well), Marston School and Hillside School. She oversaw the creation of the Hillside School, which is adjacent to the Junior High School.

Dupont, who grew in Gorham "behind the Catholic church," was the daughter of the local police chief, Anthony Doolan. While her father wanted her to pursue a career in the FBI, she followed her dreams to Plymouth State College to become a business teacher. She changed to primary education and graduated in 1973 (and later earned a master's degree) and landed at the Burgess School teaching fifth grade teacher.

While she said she loved teaching, she was recruited into administration, and one assignment led to another and then another. "I get bored easily," she said.

Over the years, Dupont has seen many changes. Schools, she said, have far greater responsibilities as the family unit has changed (it all "goes back to the family" she said.) and more accountability to ensure the success of each child. The new accountability, she said, does "take some flexibility away, but not creativity."

Dupont is proud that both her schools have updated curriculum maps that guide instruction and ensure content is uniform. She has recommended and the school board has approved her plan to administratively separate the Junior High School from the Hillside School. Both schools will have their own principal next year. This will not include any new staff because the plan eliminates an assistant principal, so really it's a matter of shifting personnel. This change makes sense for many reasons, she said, but mostly because the schools have different needs and this will leverage expertise. Hillside needs a "literacy principal," she said, while the Junior High needs a principal "versed in middle school education."

When pressed to give a new principal advice, Dupont said, "Always look for the good, and sometimes you have to work to find it." She continued, "Try to understand the daily life of most kids. It's very different from our own, and don't forget their kids."

Come June, Dupont will walk out the school's door and will do, as she said, "a lot of nothing." She adds, "I don't know what that's like." Her husband, Daniel, is now retired and they look forward to enjoying more time at their camp in Maine and doing some traveling. They have one son, Christopher, who teaches at the Jefferson School.

While most of her career has been as a school principal, she fondly remembers her time in the classroom. "A good day of teaching," she said, "can't beat it."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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