FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — When Tanya Belanger last worked at Fort Fairfield Middle-High School, she was a sixth-grade math, science and English-language arts teacher. Now — three short years later — she’s the new principal.
Belanger replaces Mark Jenkins, who has accepted the position of superintendent of School Union 76 (Brooklin, Sedgwick, Deer Isle and Stonington). Jenkins was principal in Fort Fairfield for 12 years. Belanger was approved by the SAD 20 board July 16.
“I started July 17 and it gave me a chance to work together with the outgoing principal for a couple weeks to make the transition a little smoother,” said Belanger, who resides in Caribou with her husband, Clair.
The Washburn native graduated from Washburn District High School in 1994. Belanger then graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 2002 with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. She taught in Fort Fairfield for seven years.
“I enjoyed teaching in Fort Fairfield very much, and I obtained my master’s of education degree in administrative management from St. Joseph’s College while I was there,” she said. “I had always hoped that someday I’d have the chance to come back into that leadership role. I did not think it would happen this early in my career, but I’m happy it worked out this way.
“I really enjoy working with that age group of students and seeing them grow into young adults and help them with their career and educational goals,” said Belanger. “Having taught at the school, I’m very familiar with the building, and I’m walking in with a great staff whom I’m very familiar with, as well.”
More recently, Belanger has been the principal of the Teague Park Elementary School in Caribou. She has been there for the last three years.
Belanger said she has a few immediate goals as the new middle-high school principal.
“I’m hoping to really increase parent communication … communication from both myself and the teachers. I think that it’s important to build those bonds between home and school, and support students and help them reach their potential,” she said. “I’m also hoping to support the district’s goals which include looking at curriculum alignment and improve student writing and get them ready for life after high school.”
No stranger to the community, Belanger said people have welcomed her back with open arms.
“I’m so excited to be back,” she said. “It’s definitely something that I have aspired to and hoped for … I just wasn’t expecting it to be this soon. Everybody’s been very welcoming to me from the community to the staff at the school to former students. I feel very blessed to be coming back to Fort Fairfield.
The first day of school in SAD 20 is Aug. 27.
“I’ll be busy until then getting to know our new guidance counselor and meeting with individual teacher leaders, looking at schedules and making sure we’re ready when students walk through the door on Day One,” said Belanger. “I’m looking forward to it.”