ELLSWORTH — Cheers went up at a meeting of the Ellsworth School Board on Tuesday evening after Superintendent Dan Higgins announced Erica Gabbianelli as the new principal of the Ellsworth Middle School.
Gabbianelli will succeed Jim Newett, who is retiring in June after serving in the position for 29 years.
Gabbianelli “impressed the interview committee with her experiences with leadership, knowledge of middle-level education and students and years of experience working at a proficiency-based instructional knowledge school,” Higgins said.
Gabbianelli was hired last August as assistant principal and athletic director at the school. For the past two and a half months, she has also served as pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade acting principal while Tim McCluskey is on leave.
Cathy Lewis will take over as acting pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade principal for the balance of the school year.
Gabbianelli has “earned the respect of students and staff” during her time at the school, said Higgins, as well as exhibiting “appropriate leadership characteristics and practice.” She has been hired for a two-year term beginning in July.
Before coming to Ellsworth, Gabbianelli worked at the Caravel Middle School in Carmel. There, she taught sixth- and eighth-graders social studies and English/language arts. After being hired at Carmel in 2006 she became athletic director there the following year and the school’s assistant principal in 2011.
She also coached soccer and basketball and has served as president-elect of the Maine Association for Middle Education.
Lewis, who will take over as acting pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade acting principal, is “no stranger to people in the Hancock County area” said Higgins, “and has a great deal of experience and successful experience in many schools as an educational leader.”
Lewis began her career teaching elementary school. She has worked as interim principal at Pemetic Elementary School and was principal of the Surry Elementary School from 2011 to June 2015, according to reporting in the Mount Desert Islander. She has also served as assistant principal at Sumner Memorial High School and principal of the Beech Hill School, Brewer Primary School, the Peninsula School and the Ella Lewis School.
She has also worked as an adjunct instructor in education at the University of Maine in Orono.