SULLIVAN — Sumner Memorial High School Principal Marianne DeRaps, who helped raise Sumner from what was designated a failing school to one that is thriving, has resigned effective June 30, 2016.
DeRaps said the school, which she has directed since 2012, is now on a good trajectory and she is considering other opportunities in the educational realm.
“It’s not just the scores, it’s the way the school feels and the way the community is involved,” she said of Sumner’s improved status.
“All the conversations in the school are continually about how to help the students learn, what we can do for this one, what we can do for that one,” DeRaps said.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently spent an hour at Sumner congratulating the school on its Student Voice group, improved test scores and alternative Pathways program.
Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Superintendent Michael Eastman said he and the RSU board had accepted DeRaps’ resignation.
“I look forward to working with her throughout the remainder of the school year and wish her nothing but the best for the future,” Eastman said.
The job has been posted on www.servingschools.com.
DeRaps said many of the committees and events within the school are now self-sustaining, such as Pam Harmon Day, named in honor of a popular art teacher who passed away in 2011.
The full day features a variety of arts workshops and other programs with much involvement by area communities.
DeRaps said the decision was difficult because both she and her husband have longstanding ties to the community.
“It’s been sad and it’s been emotional,” she said. “I really do love the school.”
“I have been overwhelmed and humbled with the support and concern about my leaving,” DeRaps said.
She said when she arrived at Sumner in 2012 she interviewed every staff member to assess what they believed was important.
The educators looked at student scores, data and classroom instruction and discussed instructional strategies.
“We created a schedule to give teachers time to collaborate,” DeRaps said. “It’s hard to make a school better without that.”
Principals today, she said, are not just managers but instructional leaders. The only way to do both, she said, is to empower staff.
On Monday, Jan. 25, she was talking to sophomores and juniors about their PSAT scores, which are considered a predictor of how well students will do on their SATs as juniors.
“We talked about becoming apathetic and not having a good attitude about your education, no matter what you want to do,” DeRaps said. “We talked about the school’s reputation. We’re all loving the reputation that we’re gaining and we don’t want to slide backward.”