BANGOR, Maine — There were no students present to give her a shiny apple, but Lynn Silk was at school early Monday morning just the same.
“I did get flowers,” the Orono native said. “It was a bouquet from people in Milford I used to work with.”
It was the first day on the job for the new principal of Fourteenth Street School in Bangor, but it was not your typically easy orientation kind of day.
“Today I worked at Mary Snow School and I had to interview people all day for teaching positions. Not exactly what I expected,” Silk said with a laugh. “But tomorrow John [Tennett] is going to take me through the school and review the goals the school has for the year as well as its programming.”
Silk, who most recently was principal of the Milford Middle School, replaces Tennett, who left to become principal of Abraham Lincoln School in Bangor.
“She was the top candidate, considering her outstanding administrative experience and her extensive background in promoting literacy,” said Superintendent Betsy Webb. “Her past two superintendents said she’s an outstanding leader who gets along with teachers, students and the community. They specifically mentioned her great relationships with parent-teacher organizations and community members.”
Silk has 12 years of experience as assistant principal and principal in Alexander and Milford schools.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Silk said of her new position. “What’s great about this job is it combines two of the things I love: teaching and administrative duties at the pre-kindergarten through grade three levels, where children are really learning to read.”
Silk earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Maine and has received a certificate as a reading interventionist for specialized training in assisting those struggling with acquiring literacy.
“That makes her uniquely qualified to oversee our federally funded Title I program to educate economically disadvantaged children in literacy and math,” said Webb, referring to a federal grant program.
Silk, who won the Regular Educator of the Year award for 2011-12 from the organization Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities, also has taught at the collegiate level for Chapman Junior College of Lawton, Okla., and Central Texas College of Killeen, Texas.
With the move from Milford, Silk goes from administrating a school of about 350 students to one with an enrollment less than half that size.
“That’s true, but as the director for Title I, I’m also now responsible for all [Bangor] students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade,” she said. “That’s very exciting to me.”
Silk is a Gold Star mother. She and her husband, Mark, a detective for the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, lost their eldest son, Brandon, a U.S. Army staff sergeant, in a helicopter crash in June of last year in Afghanistan.
As she was growing up, Silk said, “my family was all businesspeople, and now we’re all either policemen or soldiers. I’m the only one in education.”
Her new job is a homecoming of sorts. It reunites her with former classmates and neighbors from her childhood in Bangor. They are Jeff Paul, assistant principal at Glenburn Elementary School; Gary Gonyar, principal at William S. Cohen School; and Ed Hackett, vice principal at James F. Doughty School.
“There are so many opportunities here, and I’ll be working with people I went to school with and even grew up on the same street as,” Silk said.