2012-05-18 / Community

Pond Cove Elementary principal set to retire

By Marc Filippino Staff Writer

Tom Eismeier Tom Eismeier The Cape Elizabeth School Department will say goodbye to one of its long-time staff members, as Pond Cove Elementary School Principal Tom Eismeier will retire come September.

Eismeier, who has worked in the Cape Elizabeth school administration for 17 years, has seen many facets of American education from the East Coast to the Midwest.

He began his teaching career in the south side of Chicago in the late 1960s as an elementary school teacher for an inner city school. Eismeier said his time spend teaching in Chicago was difficult, but made him realize he wanted to get better at reaching students.

In the early 1970s Eismeier, who was born in New Jersey, returned to the East Coast to teach gifted children at St. Anne’s School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He found himself once again in the role of elementary education before moving up to Vermont and then Maine.

Before settling in administration at Cape Elizabeth, Eismeier also taught special education and juggled the role of a teaching principal –a difficult role, since he felt it didn’t allow him the time to focus on the necessary aspects of each job.

“When you’re in the classroom you’re needed as the principal,” Eismeier said. “And when you are in the principal’s office, you should really be in the classroom. It was difficult splitting both roles.”

Eisemeier said he misses being in a position where he is teaching students on a one-to-one basis, but feels being a teacher has become much harder then when he started his role as an educator. Eismeier said teachers have assumed so many different roles in the past 40 years, it would be stressful to enter the classroom again.

“There are much higher standards now then when I first taught,” Eismeier said. “More pressure, more to do and less time to do it.”

No matter what the decade or title, Eismeier said he has always been drawn to educating because of how receptive children are to new ideas and learning in the classroom.

“Kids are kids. They are always curious and inquisitive and a big part of elementary education is preserving childhood, and I think we rush through these days,” Eismeier said.

Since he began at Cape Elizabeth there are changes at Pond Cove Elementary that Eismeier is especially proud of, including streamlined content and curriculum to be more relevant for students.

“Content is much more stable than it was years ago,” Eismeier said. “It used to be determined by individual teachers, but in a good way.”

He also enjoys the positive flow of communication he has seen between parents and teachers, an element he feels is critical in any school district. Eismeier said although parents have a high learning standard for their children, teachers have not been intimidated, but rather have been meeting parents’ expectations.

But Eismeier does worry about some directions the educational system is taking, such as forcing children to grow up too quickly.

“Today’s core curriculum is meant to prepare kids for college and it’s difficult to think about 6-year-olds in college.”

He also hopes to close the gender gap in schools, and feels that males dominate the world of math and science. In response, Eismeier would like to see schools make an effort to help girls “step up” and explore their world.

The Cape Elizabeth School Department has not chosen a new Pond Cove principal, but a new committee will be created to start the selection process in upcoming months. Eismeier will not actually retire until Sept. 30, and has agreed to stay on as principal if the district has difficulty finding a replacement.

When he does step down, Eismeier said he hopes to catch up on his new love for canoeing, biking, reading and hiking during his retirement. He said he’s looking forward to volunteering with children in need – much like he did starting out in Chicago’s inner city schools.

“I think it’s idealism, but I like making a difference in people’s lives,” Eismeier said. “Being around kids is always an interesting atmosphere, being around young learners is a fascinating job.”

Staff Writer Marc Filippino can be reached at 282- 4337 ext. 213.

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