University of Maine at Presque Isle alumnus Tim Doak considers himself a pretty lucky guy. The Superintendent of RSU 39 and MSAD 20 was able to get his education close to home, have a long and rewarding local career in education, and, as of January, be just the third superintendent from northern Maine recognized as the Maine State Superintendent of the Year.
“I was very surprised to receive the call that I was the 2018 Maine Superintendent of the Year,” he said. “But I think it says a lot about the school systems in the County and what we’re doing here. I don’t think people realize the changes we’ve tried to make in schools that are really on the cutting edge of what’s going on in Maine.”
Doak grew up in Fort Fairfield, graduated from Fort Fairfield High School in 1986, and from UMPI in 1990 with his Bachelor’s degree in Education. He’s since earned his Master’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Maine in 1996, and his Educational Leadership Certificate with Advanced Studies at the University of Southern Maine in 2000.
He began his career in education in the Madawaska School District—he spent eight years as a social studies teacher, two years as an assistant principal, two years as principal, and two more years as Superintendent. He later became principal at Fort Kent Community High School in MSAD 27 in Fort Kent, spent another four years as Superintendent of Schools in MSAD 27, and did adjunct teaching for 10 years at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He was then hired by RSU 39 as its Superintendent in 2015, and—coming full circle—in his second year on the job, he also began serving as Superintendent of MSAD 20 in Fort Fairfield.
“I was very fortunate to stay in Aroostook County and complete my education close to home,” he said. “I had great professors with a passion for education, and that instilled a passion in me to get my education and give back to others.”
His advice to future educators? Be flexible: “Teaching in the 21st Century is going to be very challenging because knowledge comes from many different directions and pathways. Our kids are growing up with technology and it can be used 24 hours a day to gain knowledge. The idea of coming to a school and ‘you’re going to teach me something’ is a little harder in today’s world because kids have access through all this technology and information. Being a teacher today means you have to come with a lot of skill sets and knowledge in your bag to hold the interest of these children while they’re at your school.”
Doak spends a lot of time looking to the future. His plans may include teaching someday at the college level and giving back to beginning teachers and administrators, but, in the meantime, he’s busy incorporating new methods and practices in his school districts, and overseeing the construction of a new $50 million elementary school building in Caribou. One thing Doak said he knows for sure is the role UMPI will continue to play in teaching the teachers of tomorrow.
“I think Aroostook County is a special place and having an institution like UMPI adds to the quality of life that we have up here. If we’re going to move our schools forward, I think a lot of what we’re going to be doing will be coming right out of this University with forward thinking. The teaching world in the future is going to be a demanding one, and institutions like UMPI will be on the forefront helping beginning teachers be the best they can be.”