FARMINGTON – Bringing decades of experience in public education, Christian Elkington assumed his new role as the Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent on July 1.
Beginning in Massachusetts in 1983, Elkington worked as a substitute teacher, sports coach, elementary school teacher and high school teacher. In 1987 he moved to Maine and worked in Rockland for six years as a sixth grade teacher and varsity basketball coach.
Elkington earned his Master’s degree at University of Maine at Orono, and taught in Veazie for a few years before taking his first administrative role as elementary school principal in Gray.
Since 1995, Elkington has served as a principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. For the last five years he has served as Superintendent of Schools in School Union 76 on the Blue Hill peninsula.
While he originally thought of becoming a lawyer, his interest in public education was sparked by three exemplary teachers he had in school. He enjoyed teaching and coaching and that quickly became his career. For several years he envisioned himself teaching for the rest of his career, and didn’t have much interest in administration, but some of his co-workers suggested that he should explore the possibilities of an administrative role.
As a teacher, he would reach fifty to sixty students a year, but as an administrator he could support and impact greater numbers of students in a positive way.
While he was earning his Master’s degree, Elkington observed that many of his fellow students disliked or felt frustrated with their own superintendents and administrators. He felt fortunate that he liked, respected, and trusted his administrators, and wanted to become that kind of administrator himself.
During the 1999-2000 school year Elkington considered applying for a job as an elementary school principal in RSU 9, because RSU 9 has always had a strong reputation in music and the arts, and seemed to be a district that respected itself and functioned well with all the moving parts.
When the opportunity arose for a Superintendent of Schools, he felt like it was the right time to make a career change and move away from the school union and towards a single district position.
The school union in Blue Hill consisted of four different school boards, four different sets of contracts, and four different standards. Over the last school year, Elkington attended over 100 board meetings, and the job could be stressful and confusing at times. Moving to the different structure of a single district would provide him more opportunities to perform superintendent duties rather than pushing papers.
In addition, moving to RSU 9 brought him closer to his family home in Kennebunkport, which had significant appeal as his wife is a teacher in Southern Maine. He plans to stay in the Farmington area during the week and commute south for weekends.
With any new job, there are new challenges to be met and addressed. Elkington is looking forward to learning the needs and priorities for RSU 9. COVID-19 presents additional challenges and difficulties, but he expressed his hope that it will be easier than last year given the higher vaccination rates in Maine and New England, compared with the rest of the country.
For the last several weeks he has been meeting with the administrative staff and members of the school board and community. One goal he hopes to work on is strategic planning; the board had started the preliminary process for a new strategic plan right before the pandemic began, and he wants to get that ball rolling again.
He acknowledged that RSU 9 has had some difficulties over the last year or two with the relationship between the administrative office and the community, and intends to work on that.
“Let’s look at our needs, but let’s also realize there are a lot of positives, and let’s push the positive as we come out of this together.”
“When I’m an administrator, I am 365 degrees an administrator,” he said. “In my family I’m known as the lousy vacationer.”
A lot of his interests and recreational activities surround the schools he is working in. He likes to visit school events and games to see the results of hard work from administrators, teachers, and students.
When he’s at an event, he’s there to see and support the kids, not meet with parents. He has office hours for those meetings and will make time to meet in evenings if need be.
He looks forward to exploring Farmington’s rich art and music scene and learning about the community.
He stressed that he feels honored to be chosen for the position and that he wants to work with the community, to see the good work they’re doing and help take it to the next level. Some of his previous positions have required ‘rehabilitating’ a district and he doesn’t see that as a need in RSU 9, so he’s looking forward to enjoying his administrative duties in the district.
“I still feel like I have a good amount to do to help,” he said, adding that he expects to keep working in public education for another decade or so.