Shawn Chabot is the new director and superintendent of Region 10 Technical High School. (REBECCA NORDEN-BRIGHT PHOTO)

Brunswick’s Region 10 Technical High School will begin the school year under the leadership of a new director and superintendent, Shawn Chabot. Chabot joins Region 10 with more than 25 years of experience in Maine schools, as a teacher, principal, and, most recently, superintendent of Maine School Administrative District 75.

Chabot grew up in Dexter and attended the University of Maine at Farmington, where he studied secondary education and social sciences. He taught history and government at Leavitt High School in Turner and spent 14 years with Lewiston Public Schools, including stints as assistant principal of the elementary school, principal of the middle school, principal of the high school, and assistant superintendent.

He started work as superintendent of MSAD 75 in July 2019, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was called to active duty as a medic with the Maine Army National Guard. He served as a liaison between the Guard and a mass vaccination site at Scarborough Downs, then spent a year at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in Texas. He resigned from MSAD 75 in June 2021.

Chabot joined the Guard to help pay for college and deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. He remains a member of the Guard.

Region 10 serves students from Mt. Ararat, Brunswick and Freeport high schools, as well as Harpswell Coastal Academy. Although he worked with Region 10 in his job as MSAD 75 superintendent, Chabot is new to being an administrator of a technical school. This challenge attracted him to the job.

“This was the only superintendent position I applied for to come back to the state, for a couple of reasons,” Chabot said. “One, I wanted the challenge of doing something that I had never had the experience of doing before.”

He also knew the reputation of Region 10. “I knew the quality of the students that this institution has produced and the work that we do here, so I wanted to have an opportunity to try to be part of that,” he said.

Chabot was intrigued by the possibility that Region 10 could eventually become a four-year comprehensive high school. The school is embarking on a study of the possibility.

“That combination really attracted me to put in my application and roll the dice to see if I’d be lucky enough,” Chabot said. “I was blessed and fortunate to be offered the position after going through the interview process.”

Chabot’s immediate priorities include getting to know the school and its staff, students and families. He started work on July 1 and the school welcomed students back on Aug. 29.

“Anytime you take a new position, there’s a learning curve,” Chabot said. “Most importantly, you need to get to know the people that work for the institution, whatever institution that is, and take the time to meet them and listen more than you talk.”

“What would they like to see change? What would they not want to see change?” Chabot said. “Taking in that information takes time, but I think it’s sort of like putting money in the bank: Investing that time will pay dividends over the course of the year and in future years.”

Beyond this learning curve, Chabot anticipates challenges in ensuring that Region 10 can meet the needs of students from different school districts.

“I think the largest challenge will be meeting with the three sending school districts who each have their own calendar and their own way they do business, the way they educate,” Chabot said. He wants to work with the districts to “remove any barriers” that might prevent their students from attending programs at Region 10 and still participating in classes and activities at their sending schools.

“Whether it’s the schedule, whether it’s classes that don’t quite fit in with the schedule, whatever it is, what can we do to overcome that to help the kids?” Chabot said. “To me, that’s the biggest barrier and the biggest challenge, but also the most rewarding.”

Chabot is overseeing the hiring of new staff as Region 10 expands on its programming. Region 10 has 15 full-year programs, including a program for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning that will begin this year. Enrollment is up in all programs and many are full, reflecting the demand for career and technical education, as well as the need to train workers who can alleviate Maine’s labor shortage.

“There’s a desperate need for skilled labor in the state of Maine, and there’s a desperate need to incentivize students to get their education in Maine and stay in Maine to work and live and have their families,” Chabot said. “We have too many students who leave Maine for their education or job opportunities and never come back. Maine is one of the oldest states in the union. It’s one of the least diverse states in our country, and that has long-term effects for us as a state.”

Expanding program offerings and examining the possibility of creating a four-year comprehensive school are both part of the school’s efforts to meet the state’s labor needs.

“This school is well suited to meet those challenges as we move forward,” Chabot said. “And I’m excited about this opportunity, but I’m also excited about trying to think outside the box and maybe do something different that could better meet those needs.”