The Maine Central Institute campus in Pittsfield. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Central Institute

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Winn Price, who served as dean of students at Maine Central Institute from 2001 to 2008, is serving as the independent high school’s interim leader following Christopher McDonald’s resignation.

McDonald, who began as head of school in 2019, resigned Nov. 11, though school officials declined to provide more information. Price took the helm that same day, though his duties didn’t officially begin until the next day due to Veterans Day, Director of Advancement Wayne Lobley said Friday.

Winn Price, the interim head of school for the Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Credit: Courtesy of Winn Price

Price will likely lead the Maine Central Institute, which is a boarding and day school that serves students in ninth through 12th grades, for the next six to 12 months. Board of trustees member Michael Dow is in the early stages of forming a search committee to hire a permanent head of school who can lead the institute in the long term.

“My understanding from some conversations with Mike Dow and with Mr. Price and some other individuals is the process can take time,” Lobley said. “We might find an individual, but they may need to complete their time at a particular school or business or wherever they may be.”

The institute, founded in 1866, serves approximately 400 students from Pittsfield and beyond. About 90 are boarding students, meaning they come from other parts of Maine and the United States, along with other countries. About 23 or 24 countries are represented at the institute, Lobley said.

Dow, who graduated from the school in 1984 and retired earlier this year as founder of Portland-based technology firm Tilson, will gather a group of people to serve on the search committee. He has extensive experience in leadership and hiring, Lobley said.

“Most likely that will include the community, perhaps educators, faculty and staff, a whole mixture,” he said. “It will not be just trustees or just another group. It will be a collaborative effort to bring people together to find the right person for this position.”

During an assembly at the institute a few days ago, Winn recalled that a student asked him what it’s like to return to work following retirement.

“I loved retirement, and I thought the only reason to leave retirement and come back to work would be to come to MCI,” he said. “I love the school. I love the community. I love the kids. This is it.”

Winn retired 10 years ago from the Miller School Albemarle, a coeducational private preparatory school in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has spent the last decade living with his wife in Newport, where he has served on local boards and began writing a book.

Winn graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy for 21 years, according to Maine Central Institute’s website. He also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

When Price served as dean of students at the school, he was mainly involved with disciplining students who were in violation of school policy. He got to know many students and parents during that time, he said. He also served as interim co-head of school in 2007.

As head of school, Price has goals to prepare for accreditation and complete a strategic plan. Discussions about a strategic plan will likely begin before the end of the year, and the school has traditionally made this an inclusive process, he said.

“Another one [goal] is to make sure the new head who comes in is well informed about the school,” he said, adding he’d like to do more to improve the lives of faculty, whose jobs can be difficult and demanding.