Franklin Countys First News

From Study Hall Aide to Superintendent: Ward retires after 36 years

Dr. Tom Ward sits at his desk for the last few weeks before retirement.

FARMINGTON - After returning to his home district 36 years ago, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ward will be setting sail on a new sea at the end of this month as he retires to a life of ocean, family and relaxation.

"Everyone has a lot of suggestions as to what I should do. I think I'll just play it by ear the first year and then see," Ward said.

The first thing he plans to address is the growing to-do list provided by his wife and daughters, after which he will take to the ocean to sail a friend's boat from East Port to Portland. Ward said he hopes for many adventures with sailing, a helpful hobby when it comes to his prescribed medicine of relaxation. The Mt. Blue graduate has battled kidney disease most of professional life, recently being diagnosed at a stage 3 level.

Relaxation aside, Ward said he has considered the idea of getting back into coaching- a favorite pastime that he said he let go of too soon.

"I always felt I had moved into administration too soon. I would have liked another five years of coaching," he said. "It keeps me connected with the kids, and that's really why I'm in all of this."

Ward began coaching after graduating from the University of Maine at Orono. The job market was tough, but he managed to find a position as a study hall aid at Mt. Blue High School where he helped coach football, wrestling and track. As he moved his way up through the world of education, taking a position in Rumford and later on in Dixfield and South Berwick, Ward maintained his involvement with sports.

While at Mountain Valley High School he helped the wrestling team win the state championship and upon returning to Mt. Blue as the physical education teacher he brought both the wrestling team and the football team to first in the state multiple times.

"I thought I was set for life," Ward said, recalling the days devoid of budget meetings and overseeing 600 employees.

A position of athletic director at Mt. Blue soon led to work as assistant principal as well, launching Ward into the world of administration. The next few years brought Ward from Dirigo to Marshwood and eventually back to Farmington, slowly building his career in school administration. He led Marshwood High School as principal through the construction of a new building before taking position of superintendent at Dirigo High School where he oversaw the consolidation of three districts into RSU 56.

"Then the Mt. Blue superintendent position opened and I just had to apply," Ward said. "I always wanted to be back with RSU 9."

Since returning to Mt. Blue five years ago, Ward has led the district through times of stress and achievement. Guiding a large school district in rural Maine through the process of budgeting was difficult, Ward said, but he is proud of what the district has accomplished and of how it was done.

"It was definitely the most difficult part. Especially at a time when we are already at a low expenditure per pupil. I think we've done a very fine job meeting the needs overall and the district is in a good place in facilities, programs and salaries. It's a district we can be proud of," Ward said.

"You can only be as good as the people you surround yourself with and throughout my career I have been very lucky to be surrounded by great people," he said.

Ward will be replaced by another graduate of Mt. Blue High School with a strong athletic history- Tina Meserve.

A retirement party for Dr. Tom will be held on June 16 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Bjorn Auditorium. All are invited. A series of speeches will take place, including former students, as well as colleagues and Senator Tom Saviello. Refreshments will be provided.

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16 Responses »

  1. Enjoy your retirement years, Tom. You deserve them! Thanks for your many years of service to the citizens of Maine. You are a caring, competent man. Take care!

  2. Love you, Tom.

  3. We have enjoyed having you at the helm as our children have gone through RSU#9. Our last child graduates this year as you head into fitting. More importantly though, our children have enjoyed you and respected the way you have led. Enjoy your retirement, you certainly deserve it. Would love to see you coaching somewhere again. That would be a joy to watch. Congratulations & you will be missed.

  4. Tom, Thank you for your contributions to our education and community needs. You will be greatly missed. Enjoy your new journey - Love from all of us.

  5. Enjoy your retirement Tom.You will be missed.

  6. We will miss you Dr. Tom thank you for everything

  7. Best of Luck Tom, and enjoy sailing

  8. Good luck with your future endeavors. Your dedication to our children and RSU 9 has been unwavering and a joy to watch. I don't think there was ever a school event that I attended that you were not there. You deserve a restful retirement!

  9. Congratulations Tom Ward and enjoy your retirement with your family and even alone at times. Make the most of life while you can

  10. Perhaps one of the best thing about my joining the school board two years ago was the opportunity to work with Tom Ward. It has been an honor to work with such a dedicated and tireless educator. Most important is that he has a good heart, and really cares for every child in the system. Thanks Tom for years of dedicated service! Enjoy the future!

  11. Congratulations coach!
    “1983 wrestling team”

    From a kid Coming from Wilton you were the only man that could coach like Arthur Kane,(basketball), Denny Adams (football) and Lewis Yeaton (baseball).

    Back when discipline was 99% of structure.

    Thank you, enjoy your accomplishments.

    115lb class
    Ps P Sabin always kicked my ?!?

  12. Sailing off into the sunset. Bon voyage!

  13. Thank you Mr. Ward, I have many fond memories of you from my high school days. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

  14. Way to go brother Tom, we’re all very proud of you!!!


  15. Thank you for all that you've done at Mt. Blue and beyond. For my part I am the most grateful for several very memorable moments in high school. Your patience, and the occasional heroics, will never be forgotten.

    Big hugs, and most of all I thank you for not letting me fall through the stage at graduation!


    Shelley Hooper MBHS '90

  16. "That's DR. Rosebud to you." CONGRATULATIONS, TOM! ENJOY.