The Maine School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors honored Harpswell representative Linda Hall on June 9, her last meeting after 12 years of service.
Hall was a leader on the 14-member board. She was chair twice, for the 2015-16 and 2019-20 school years. At the time of the meeting, she was the longest-serving current Harpswell representative and the second-longest-serving current member overall, after Bowdoin’s Kimberly Totten.
Hall was on the board’s Policy Committee all 12 years, including six years as chair. She is a former chair of the Finance Committee and was the board’s lead negotiator for multiple rounds of talks with the teachers union. She was on multiple superintendent evaluation committees, as well as the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee.
Board Chair Holly Kopp presented Hall with flowers and a gift, saying she has “worked tirelessly” for Harpswell and the district.
Board member Mary Hobson, of Topsham, called Hall a voice of wisdom and fortitude.
“She has demonstrated how to forge unions with others who don’t necessarily see things the way she does,” Hobson said. “She holds strong core values, always holding on to her values while still forging a path forward.”
“She has modeled what it looks like to be a dedicated, knowledgeable and effective board member, and has stood up to adversity with grace,” Hobson said. “She has been a strong voice for our schools and our community.”
Totten, the only current board member with a longer tenure, said she and Hall “have had some very strong disagreements.”
“But through it all, we have found common ground, we’ve found respect, we’ve been each other’s sounding board when we’re trying to work through difficult situations and just need to have that back and forth in order to get through,” Totten said.
Totten said she has appreciated Hall’s “dedication and hard work” and “the students of our district have been better for it.”
The board gave Hall a standing ovation.
Hall comes from Harpswell roots on both sides of her family, but her father’s career as an engineer took the family to Crown Point, Indiana, where she grew up. They spent summers in Harpswell.
Hall earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from DePauw University and Purdue University, both in Indiana. She taught public school in Indiana for nine years, worked in the computer business in the Boston area for almost 20 years, then returned to public schools. She taught in New Hampshire for four years, then moved to Harpswell and taught in Brunswick for five years before retirement.
In 2009, she volunteered to serve as the community representative on an MSAD 75 committee exploring the consolidation of West Harpswell School and Harpswell Islands School, which she opposed. The next year, she ran for and won a seat on the school board.
Harpswell voters ultimately agreed to consolidation in a February 2011 referendum, but Hall stuck around and became an influential voice on the board.
She sees the COVID-19 pandemic as the biggest challenge for the board in her 12 years — and it arrived during her second stint as chair.
Hall felt that the board “needed to let our superintendent and his staff figure out the best way to do things” with regard to the pandemic, she said. “That was my stand and I feel proud that I supported that.”
She believes the board’s biggest success during her tenure, while she takes no credit for it, was the construction of the new Mt. Ararat High School, which opened in 2020. “It’s beautiful. It’s well done, well thought out,” she said.
Hall thinks the board is “in a good place” after a period of turbulence and turnover, both on the board and in the administration. Five board members have come on since November and a new superintendent started work on July 1.
New board members include Harpswell representatives Greta Warren and Ryan Larsen, who started in March and June, respectively.
Hall said her advice for new members is to “get as involved as you can” in committees, which shape the board’s work.
For the full board, Hall offered the following advice: “Remember our code of ethics and treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself — respectfully.”
Hall also serves Harpswell as the longest-tenured current member of the town’s Budget Committee, which she joined in 2009.
She lives on Harpswell Neck with her husband, Chris Hall. She loves to sail and play competitive bridge.