REGION 4— David Russell, the principal at John Winthrop Middle School for the past 17 years, has announced plans to retire from a 42-year career in public education at the end of June.
Russell, who notified Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy and the Region 4 Board of Education of his plans earlier this month, is only the second principal in the 42-year history of the school in Deep River, which was called John Winthrop Junior High School when it opened to seventh and eighth graders in September 1971. Only seventh graders had attended the nearly finished school during the 1970-1971 school year.
Russell, a Westbrook resident, was there that September after being hired as the school’s industrial arts teacher. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Russell had worked the previous two years as an industrial arts teacher in the Montgomery County, Md. school system. Russel said he had visited the shoreline area previously because his grandmother had a summer cottage on West Beach in Westbrook.
Russell taught industrial arts until 1985, when he was named as associate principal, a job that at the time included duties at John Winthrop and at nearby Valley Regional High School. Russell was named principal at John Winthrop upon the retirement of the late Timothy Doyle, the school’s first principal.
Russell said he has enjoyed his time at John Winthrop, watching former students become the parents, and grandparents, of students attending the school today. “Being part of Region 4 schools has been a very rewarding experience for me,” he said.
Russell said the “most unique experience” of his career was watching the $21 million renovation and expansion of John Winthrop that was completed in 2005. The school, which had followed a middle school education model since the late 1980s, was formally renamed as John Winthrop Middle School after completion of the renovation project.
Russell, who had also served as the appointed harbor master in Westbrook, said his retirement plans include sailing and travel, though he may also seek some temporary work in education, possibly as an acting or interim principal.
The closing date for submitting applications for the middle school principal position is Friday. The Region 4 Board of Education is expected to hire a new principal by June, with a salary range of $116,000 to $127,000.
Russell is the second Region 4 principal to announce a June retirement. Jack Pietrick, principal at Deep River Elementary School since 1999, is also retiring at the end of June. Jennifer Byars, a Deep River native and current town resident, has been hired as the new principal at Deep River Elementary School.