Paul Bickford: “I was influenced by educators”

PARIS – SAD 17’s has announced a new change in the administrative leadership of the district: Paul Bickford, currently Principal of Oxford Hills Technical School, has been appointed Principal of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

You could say Bickford was born for the job, having walked the halls of Oxford Hills schools all his life. Both of his parents were teachers in the district; his wife Cathy is a primary school principal.

Bickford attended school in Paris, graduating from OCHHS with the class of 1990. He returned 25 years ago to start his own teaching career as a math teacher. And, for the past 18 years, he has been in charge of administration: first as Director of Guidance, then as Deputy Principal of OCHHS, then Principal at Oxford Hills Middle School from 2017 to 2019 and most recently leading the Voc 11/OHTS region. .

Paul Bickford, pictured here with his youngest daughter Megan (OHCHS Class of ’21) during a production of Cinderella in 2018. Photo provided

“I’m very happy to be here,” Bickford said during an interview with the Democratic announcer in the OCHHS office he will soon take over for good. “I have worn many hats. Parenting successful students also adds another perspective. I know how it all works and I know what awaits me as a principal.

“I had no intention of applying for this position for the past few years. (But) with two new vice principals in high school this year, I thought that would be the best thing for the school as a whole and also for the technical school. For me, the person in the director’s chair has to agree with the full OHTS model as well. »

The student ties between OCHHS and OHTS are a particular point of pride for Bickford. While statewide the enrollment rate for high school students in at least one technical education class is less than 20 percent, in SAD 17 the rate jumps to nearly 80 percent.

Bickford took his time making his decision after Principal Ted Moccia announced his retirement in early 2022. He spent time discussing it with Moccia and one of his OHTS lieutenants. By the time the job was posted in April, his decision was made and he threw his hat in the ring. He knew it would be the right decision.

“I love my job at the tech school,” Bickford said. “But I have no worries moving into this role. We have a lot of good things going on and we have things we need to work on.

“I am extremely proud and pleased that the nominating committee is moving forward with the nomination of Paul Bickford as Director of OCHHS,” Moccia wrote in an email to the Democratic announcer. “He has considerable institutional knowledge of the overall model and the importance of the relationship between the director and the director of Region 11. Paul has a work ethic that is second to none, add to that his intelligence and diligence (and) he will do his job well as a director.

“I am very close to Paul and when I found out he was the candidate I was very happy. Paul is not just a colleague, he is also one of my best friends. He will be his own leader in his work, but he also knows that I am just a phone call away if I can help in any way.

Future OCHHS director Paul Bickford (left) and outgoing director Ted Moccia at the SAD 17 central office. Nicole Carter / Democrat announcer

Over the summer, Bickford will invite high school staff members to meet with him so he can experience different perspectives within the building. School culture, for both students and employees, is a top priority.

“We want to make sure every student in the community feels safe, secure and valued,” he said. “It will be an ongoing priority for us. I think the majority of our students think that way. But I don’t think everyone does.

“We need to make sure that we are always working on the best teaching practices and that we are constantly evolving. The pandemic has hurt and we need to support our children and staff socially, emotionally and do all we can educationally. It’s (the pandemic) been difficult.

“I’m here to support our students,” Bickford said. “I grew up here. I come from a family of teachers, both my parents taught here in high school. I was influenced by educators who brought me to where I am today. As a director, I think this is the best way for me to have a positive impact on our children.

Bickford’s promotion wasn’t made official until Monday night when the SAD 17 board approved it. But, even before that happened, the atmosphere at OCHHS had become spring-like.

“I was very excited,” Meghan Marcoux, Principal Secretary of OCHHS, said of her reaction. “It made me very happy. He was obviously my choice. He has 100% everyone’s support. He knows the kids, he has the experience. The district really needed someone to work with. feels comfortable, children are happy, staff are happy.

“It was exactly what I was hoping for,” added Colleen Holden, the high school receptionist. “He will do a great job.”

Matt Delamater, left, OCHHS director Ted Moccia and OHTS director Paul Bickford at the start of the 2021 Oxford Hills graduation ceremony at Gouin Field. Courtesy of Cristina Sugars

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