2012-06-29 / People

Neighbors

Cape educator comes full circle
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Kelly Hasson Kelly Hasson When Kelly Hasson takes over as principal of Pond Cove Elementary School this fall, she will, as she put it, “be coming full circle.”

Hasson has already worked at Pond Cove School in Cape Elizabeth for more than 20 years. From 1984 until 2003 she taught in first- and second-grade classrooms. Then for her last two years at Pond Cove, she worked as the school’s first-ever teacher leader, providing instructional leadership to all the kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms.

For the last seven years, Hasson, 52, has worked as a principal in various public elementary schools in Portland, most recently at Fred P. Hall School on Orono Road near the town line between Portland and Westbrook. Hasson said she loved her experience in Portland. Although she was not actively looking to move on, when there was an opening at Pond Cove her decision was relatively easy.

“When I found out that this opportunity came up in Cape, I really weighed it and thought about it for a little while. It didn’t actually take me too long, because I was there (at Pond Cove) for so long,” Hasson said. “It just feels like I’m going home. Cape was very good to me, so I feel as if it’s a way for me to go back and give back.”

Hasson said although Portland is right next door to Cape Elizabeth, her experience in the Portland schools was vastly different from her experience in Cape.

“You think, it’s still greater Portland, as is Cape Elizabeth, but in many ways (Portland is) a world away in terms of the diversity here and the opportunities, which I think has given me a huge perspective on all the variables that go into a child’s education,” Hasson said.

Her priority as principal, Hasson said, will be to prevent any outside factors from getting in the way of the interests of Cape Elizabeth students.

“Sometimes we can get mired in budgets. But if you really keep the needs of students right at the center of everything, I think that’s the best filter you have,” Hasson said. “If you don’t have a staff or parents who are happy or feel confident in the direction the school is going, that’s going to trickle down to the classroom and the students are not going to get what they deserve.”

Hasson will replace former Pond Cove principal Tom Eismeier, who stepped down after he was in the position for 17 years.

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

Hasson is a Maine native, and she has spent her entire career as an educator in Maine. She grew up in the Portland area. Her mother graduated from Cape Elizabeth High School and her father’s family lived on Peaks Island.

She attended the University of Maine and earned her bachelor’s degree in child development in 1981 with a minor in special education. After college, she started her career in Rockport before moving to Cape Elizabeth.

Her only brief stop outside of the state was to Cambridge, Mass., where she earned her master’s degree in language and literacy education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. But even then, Hasson said she knew she would end up in Maine.

“I never really thought about going elsewhere. I’ve always felt very connected to the state.”

Hasson said the most rewarding part of her job is working with families and communities to help children learn and grow. She loves seeing children progress from their first time through the school doors to the first time they learn to read and make connections in math. There have been some challenges along the way, Hasson said, but she said, “I’ve never grown tired of it. I’ve never said, ‘OK, I think I want to go sell insurance today.”

“It’s really exciting. It’s the best career anyone could be in,” Hasson said. “I feel really blessed that I’ve been able to be in it this long, and also to work with some extraordinary people in Portland and Cape Elizabeth.”

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