JONESPORT — Whatever it takes.
That’s how Lew Collins is approaching his new position as superintendent of Moosabec CSD (Community School District) and School Union 103, which covers the Jonesport and Beals area.
Technically, he is a part-time superintendent, working two to three days a week. But, if the job requires more than that, he is ready, willing and able to deliver.
“It’s really full time,” he said. “I’m on email seven days a week for the district.”
Collins, who took over in July for the retiring Dennis Howard, said the district has always had a part-time superintendent. In this role, he is in the office at the beginning of the week but he is available by phone and email any time.
He also serves as the school superintendent on Matinicus Island one day a week.
“It’s tough being a remote island in Maine,” he said, adding that districts on islands and in remote areas have a more difficult time recruiting teaching staff.
“[Moosabec] just made it this year. We hired an English teacher with a week to go,” he said.
Collins, who grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., describes himself as a “traveler and an adventurer.” He has lived and worked not only in New Jersey and Maine but also Arizona and New Mexico. In Maine, he worked for 17 years for Child Development Services, which provides early intervention and education for young children through the state Department of Education.
He also served as school superintendent in Vinalhaven, Rockland and Maranacook. His wife, Debbie, recently retired as special education director at RSU 18. The couple have two grown sons who are both educators. One lives in New York City and the other in California.
Collins said he chose Moosabec for a variety of reasons. For one, he likes working for small coastal schools. He also praised the school board.
“The board, when they interviewed me, really impressed me with their dedication to the kids,” he said.
Collins said his immediate goals are to listen to the concerns of staff and the community in order to better understand what is working and what isn’t.
“I’m the new guy. I’ve got to spend a year just trying to figure out who’s who,” he said.
Moosabec has about 225 students with 31 teachers across three schools — Jonesport Elementary School, Beals Elementary School and Jonesport-Beals High School. Collins recently brought the teachers together by subject area so they could share ideas and brainstorm.
“For the first time in a long, long time, they all got together from the three schools,” he said.
In keeping with his tradition of travel and adventure, Collins travels back and forth between his new home in Addison and his home in Hallowell. He doesn’t mind the commute.
“Actually it’s kind of fun,” he said. While in Addison, he and his wife have done a lot of exploring, visiting places such as Eastport, Lubec and Jasper Beach.
“This is a great place to be,” he said. “I love the kids up here, the staff, the community.”