BANGOR, Maine — Paul Butler, a former star athlete and student at Bangor High School in the late 1980s, is returning to his alma mater.
Bangor School Committee members on Wednesday unanimously approved Superintendent Betsy Webb’s nomination of Butler as the new principal at Bangor High, one of the state’s largest high schools with an enrollment of about 1,500 students.
Butler, currently the director of gifted and talented and Title I programs for the Bangor School Department, replaces longtime Bangor High School Principal Norris Nickerson, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
“I’m beyond thrilled,” Butler said Thursday. “Bangor High School is the pinnacle of the Bangor School Department experience.”
Webb selected Butler from among a dozen candidates and three finalists who were interviewed in person. The superintendent said having first-hand knowledge of Butler’s passion and commitment to education made her decision easy.
“He’s the perfect fit for Bangor High School,” she said. “His leadership abilities are only going to strengthen an already great school.”
Butler will earn approximately $95,000 in his new role.
Before his job in the School Department’s administration, Butler was principal at Fairmount School. Before that, he was an English and language arts teacher at James F. Doughty School. He graduated in 1993 from Colby College in Waterville, where he also played basketball for longtime coach Dick Whitmore.
Nickerson, 71, was principal of Bangor High for more than two decades and a Bangor School Department employee for nearly 50 years before his recent retirement.
“I hope I left a good mark,” Nickerson said in an interview earlier this month. “I’m kind of old school. I’m very proud of that. I did not allow some of the things that go on in other schools. It worked for us.”
Butler has been director of gifted and talented services for about three years and also took on a handful of special projects recently, including an upgrade of the School Department’s website.
He said he was not necessarily targeting the principal job, but when the position came open, he jumped at the chance.
Bangor High consistently ranks among the best high schools in Maine for academic and extracurricular achievement.
“It’s such a high-performing school, so that challenge will be to keep that going,” he said.
Butler solidifies an already strong connection to athletics among Bangor School Department administrators and principals.
Superintendent Webb is the daughter of longtime Husson College basketball coach Bruce MacGregor and was a superb athlete in her own right.
Nickerson started his career as a football coach in Bangor before becoming principal.
Robert MacDonald, principal of the James F. Doughty School, is a longtime swim coach, as is Tim Babcock, the principal of Fruit Street School.
Mary Snow School Principal Michael Missbrenner is a former University of Maine football player and has coached football at Bangor High as well.
And John Tennett, principal of Fourteenth Street School, also has been an assistant football coach at Bangor and his father, Tom Tennett, was a longtime Bangor girls basketball coach.