St. John Valley

Board promotes Bernier as new MSAD 33 leader

Lisa Bernier

Lisa Bernier

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Members of the Maine School Administrative board of directors endorsed longtime educator and Dr. Levesque Elementary School Principal Lisa Bernier as the new MSAD 33 Superintendent.

The school board approved Monday, March 6 a one-year contract with Bernier, for the combined position of superintendent and elementary school principal for the fiscal year 2017-2018. According to current Superintendent Fern Desjardins, who will be departing in June, Bernier’s contract will be for a salary of $95,000.

“I am excited about this new role,” Bernier said Tuesday, March 7. “I am even more excited that I am remaining principal at Dr. Levesque.”

“Dr. Levesque Elementary School will always be dear to my heart and as a team the teachers, students, and I have made it an ‘A’ school. We have worked very hard and I plan on continuing the growth mindset to the middle school and high school.”

Bernier, who lives in Frenchville with her husband Paul, has been Dr. Levesque’s principal since 2005, and an educator for more than 30 years.

Today, Bernier still teaches an accelerated math class to sixth grade students. However, the teaching principal regrets this is something she will have to give up once she takes on the role of superintendent.

Bernier said her biggest challenge as a new school superintendent will be getting used to less daily contact with her elementary school students.

“On my most difficult days I travel to classrooms and my mood quickly changes. I am very fortunate to have a great staff and student body,” said Bernier.

Bernier said she plans to start each day at the elementary school and spend the second half of her days at the district’s central office at the St. John Valley Technology Center, located just down the road in Frenchville.

“Finding a balance will be very important,” she added.

The creation of the combined position means there will no longer be a full-time principal at Dr. Levesque. The superintendent position has been part-time for the past five years.

SAD 33 board chair Sandra San Antonio said school board members considered the declining student enrollments and decided that a combined superintendent/elementary school principal position was warranted.

“We are looking at different options in case Lisa needs additional help to assure good coverage at Dr. Levesque,” San Antonio said Tuesday. “We’ve been deliberate in our process of replacing Fern, and we have taken our time.”

For the past five years, Desjardins has been the district’s part-time superintendent, following her retirement from the full-time superintendent position. MDSAD 33 serves the communities of St. Agatha, Frenchville and Sinclair.

Desjardins, who has been with the school system for four decades, is retiring in June.

San Antonio said school board members are confident that Bernier will meet the challenges of the combined position at the district.

“Lisa is completely dedicated to the Dr. Levesque School and to SAD 33,” said San Antonio. “She wants the best for both.”

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.