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New Principal Selected for Deering High School

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New Principal Selected for Deering High School
Posted on 07/21/2017
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Gregg Palmer, principal of Falmouth High School, has been selected to become the new principal of Deering High School, Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana announced July 21. Palmer emerged as the top candidate following an intensive selection process that included input from Deering staff, students and parents, including former Deering Principal Ira Waltz. Waltz, a longtime educator who retired in June after leading the school for seven years, is assisting in the transition process.

Palmer’s nomination will go to the Portland Board of Public Education for a vote at the board’s meeting on Aug. 1.

“I am thrilled to have a candidate of Gregg's proven mettle step up for the Deering principalship,” Botana said. “I am confident that Gregg brings the combination of skills and disposition that will allow us to continue Deering's positive trajectory. As Portland's largest and Maine's most diverse high school, Deering is a unique setting with enormous potential. I believe Gregg recognizes that potential, and is seeking the unique challenge of leading in the community where he lives.”

Palmer has led Falmouth High School since 2010. Successes during his tenure include the school’s achieving the best standardized test scores of any high school in Maine in math and English language arts; innovative programs and initiatives such as Latin honors and diploma endorsements in STEM and the arts; and the creation of a program to bring more students from other countries to study at the school.

Palmer’s previous experience includes working for the Searsport school district, MSAD 56, from 2002 to 2010. During his tenure there, he held the positions of high school principal, middle school principal and dean of students and led an intensive improvement process. He was a special education teacher in the Brewer schools from 1994 to 2002.

“Throughout the search process, I became increasingly convinced that Gregg was an outstanding candidate to lead Deering,” Botana said. “His work at Falmouth High School and Searsport middle and high schools shows that he is capable of working in different types of school settings. His track record through those principalships is one of steady improvement. It is clear that Gregg prizes long-term investment in improvement over quick fixes. He is deliberative and inclusive in his approach, and will work closely with the Deering family to continue the school’s positive trajectory.” 

Deering, which has about 900 students, is one of New England's most diverse high schools. That diversity has become central to the school's identity as an International Studies Schools Network (ISSN) school. Deering seeks to increase the relevance of coursework by incorporating global competencies into the high school experience. Deering also has a growing number of highly rigorous course offerings, which the school has been making accessible to a larger segment of the school's population.

Palmer lists his leadership goals as including continuous growth for all learners; giving students the tools of restorative justice to build pro-social habits and community connections; and fighting for equal treatment and justice of all students. 

The selection process included interviews with Deering staff and other administrators; a student and a parent forum with groups of about 10 participants who were identified by Principal Waltz and others with knowledge of the Deering community; tours of the school and time spent with Waltz to understand key issues facing Deering; and a final interview with the district's senior academic leadership.

Palmer holds a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Maine in Orono; a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Iowa; a master’s degree in applied behavioral science in education from Oklahoma State University; and a certificate of advanced study in education from the University of Maine in Orono.