David Armistead, associate head of school at John Bapst Memorial High School, works from an office in his Bangor home last April after classes went remote due to the coronavirus pandemic. Armistead will become head of school in July 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The associate head of school at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, David Armistead, will take over leadership of the school next July, after the current head of school retires.

Mel McKay, who has led the 540-student independent high school since 2007, announced his retirement in July.

Armistead will take over the school, which serves students from a number of Bangor-area communities as well as a sizable population of foreign students, following a school year that has been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many schools across Maine, John Bapst is following a hybrid plan this school year under which students attend school two days a week and learn remotely the rest.

“Our first priority is to get through the pandemic, and hopefully that’s handled by next July,” Armistead said. “Given the way 2020 has been, we need stability more than change. An interesting question will be, what does the school look like when the pandemic is over?”

Armistead has held a number of positions since he started at John Bapst in 2006. He began at the school as a social sciences teacher, then served as academic dean before assuming his current role as associate head of school. He has been an educator for 30 years, and still teaches an Advanced Placement psychology course at John Bapst in addition to performing his administrative role.

“I’ve definitely been an administrator here for a long time,” he said. “I love this place, so I’m really excited to be the new guy.”

As associate head of school, Armistead oversees the school’s academic programs and training for its teachers.

When he takes over next July, one of his priorities will be to develop a new strategic plan to guide the school over the next five years. The school’s current strategic plan included the construction of a new practice gymnasium and fitness center on Somerset Street, for which the school broke ground a year ago. After that building is completed, the next phase of construction, which Armistead will oversee, will be the development of a new technology and community center that will be located in the school’s current gym.

Armistead is most looking forward to leading John Bapst when it returns to normal once the pandemic is over.

“I would like to have athletic events and fine arts events that people can come to, and I’d like to have all the kids in school,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being here for that.”