County Faces: Chris Hallett of Mapleton
Chris Hallett of Mapleton is a third-generation Aroostook County educator. His grandmother, Lois Terrell, taught at Fort Street Elementary School in Mars Hill and his parents, Frank and Pam Hallett, both were principals — his father at Cunningham Middle School, now Presque Isle Middle School, and his mother at the former Gouldville Elementary School in Presque Isle and Westfield Elementary School.
Today, Hallett is the principal of Zippel Elementary School in Presque Isle. Growing up in a family of educators meant that he and his sisters spent as much time at their parents’ schools for events and activities as they did at the schools they attended in Washburn. He even got to know teachers whose classes he never set foot in.
“I think being exposed to the education field at a young age made me feel comfortable in that environment. Even around the dinner table my parents always talked about school with my sisters and I,” Hallett said. “I would visit teachers that I still have connections with today.”
Hallett’s career in education began at Messalonskee High School in Oakfield, Maine, where he was a counselor. After their son, Jack, was born five years ago, Hallett and his wife, Andrea, decided to move back to Aroostook County to raise their family. He took a position as a counselor at Washburn District High School soon after arriving.
Two years later, in 2007, Hallett became the athletic director and assistant principal of Ashland District School. He remembers being amazed at the level of support the teachers and administrators gave to students at the small elementary and high school. Some of his most vivid memories come from the year that both groups of students moved into a brand new school building.
“When we were in the older buildings, some basketball teams from other schools in Maine would say things like ‘This school stinks’ and I hated that the Ashland kids would hear that,” Hallett said. “Then after we were in the new school those same teams would say how great the school was and the Ashland kids would beam with pride and that made me smile.”
During his last few years at Ashland District School, Hallett served as the principal. Being at that school taught him how he most enjoyed working with elementary students, which influenced his decision to accept his current position at Zippel Elementary School in 2014.
Hallett is grateful that his parents didn’t have him and his sisters attend the same schools where they were principals. As a parent, he realized he wanted his two children to have similar experiences.
“My son, Jack, is a seventh-grader at Presque Isle Middle School and my daughter, Emily, is a third-grader at Mapleton Elementary School,” Hallett said. “I want them to have the experiences of getting to know their principals and form positive relationships with adults other than their parents.”
At Zippel, Hallett strives to be a positive role model for all students and disprove the myth that the principal is the scariest person in a school. He always says “Hi” to the children as they walk by in the hallways and often finds that their enthusiasm for learning rubs off on him.
“If I have a day when I’m feeling really stressed, I’ll go visit a classroom and leave feeling better,” Hallett said.
“Children are always anxious to show you what they’re working on and that’s how I know the work we do as teachers and administrators makes a great impact on them.”