The Appleton Village School’s new principal, Gary Bosk, will come to the Knox County community July 1 with a variety of experiences and a desire to facilitate the dreams of the students in his new position.

Currently principal at Trenton Elementary School, Bosk said May 8 that he began his working life as a guitar player and singer.

Family trip leads to life in Maine

“I was taking a break from being on tour with a country rock band, and my dad asked me to help him move to Maine,” Bosk said.

The son of a Coast Guardsman, Bosk was used to travel. The family had been in the Mendocino, Calif., area for about 10 years before Bosk’s father retired to East Machias in 1981.

“I’d never been to Maine and I said sure,” Bosk said. He said that after driving across the country with his brothers, sisters and stepmother, he had planned to spend some time in Maine and then return to the West Coast.

“Dad had provided a return ticket to California, but I got word that the band was on the fritz, so I decided to stay in Maine for a little while,” he said. At that time, he was in his early 30s and had not yet earned his college degree.

“I figured the University of Maine at Machias was close to home,” he said. “I went up there and took a couple of classes and got into it. I decided to finish my degree.” He graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. “I was going to get on my white horse and save the world,” he said. But he found that there weren’t many jobs in the field other than lobbying the Legislature.

“I wasn’t into that,” he said.

Environmental education launches teaching career

“A local school needed assistance with a special education pilot program for some really disfranchised kids and kids with some serious disabilities,” Bosk said. “I signed up to do that.”

He found himself working with the students on an environmental curriculum, designing a greenhouse and working with nature and plants.

“The kids loved it,” he said. He said it was a fantastic program and the class eventually participated in an international symposium, presenting their environmental vocational program to the symposium.

“We got pretty wide acclaim for the program,” Bosk said. “The lead teacher was Janice Jacobs. She was a fabulous special education teacher.”

“I learned a lot from that and decided that maybe the way to improve environmental awareness is with children rather than adults,” he said. “I decided that was the best approach to it and to apply my environmental knowledge to kids in school.”

In January 1986, Bosk was hired for a position as a math and computer science teacher in Lubec, where five teachers had transitioned through the classroom in a period of nine months.

“People were actually secretly taking bets on how long I would stay,” he said. He remained in Lubec for seven years. “It was fabulous,” he said.

He said the community, though on the mainland, had an island feel to it and was somewhat isolated. At the time, Bosk was married and both of his children were born in the Washington County community.

“We enjoyed it,” he said.

Teacher becomes administrator, moves west

In 1992 Bosk earned his master’s degree in secondary education with a specialization in administration. He said he was encouraged to pursue a position as a school principal, and was eventually hired by the Rose Gaffney School in Machias as assistant principal and to teach science and math. In 1995, Bosk became assistant principal at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

“We were looking to move out of Washington County to a more populated region,” he said. “We always loved Belfast.” Bosk remained at Troy Howard for nine years, three as assistant principal and six as principal.

“That was a fantastic job and I really loved it,” he said. “I was the administrator that was there to initiate the greenhouse project. It’s still there.”

Bosk left Troy Howard to exchange positions with another principal in the district. At the time he was working on his superintendent’s certificate and wanted more experience at the kindergarten through fifth-grade level.

He worked at the Edna Drinkwater School in Northport for a year during a period when the district was experiencing financial problems. He said there was a call to streamline administrative functions and he volunteered to take a teaching position with the hope of eventually returning to administration.

“They ended up cutting the teaching position, so I applied for the job at Trenton Elementary in 2006,” he said. “What attracted me to that position was that they were also interested in having a greenhouse as an environmental piece to their educational system.” Bosk said that greenhouse will be operational by June.

“Greenhouses seem to spring up wherever I go,” he said.

Bosk praises community involvement at Appleton Village School

“Now I’m going to Appleton,” Bosk said. He said Appleton Village School was appealing to him because of its rural location, the grade range and its proximity to his home on the outskirts of Belfast.

“I have been driving about 600 miles a week,” he said. “It was starting to get old and expensive.”

“I love [kindergarten through eighth grade schools],” he said. “They’re great schools. [Appleton] has a number of directions they want to go that I felt I would fit into and be able to help out with.”

He said Appleton Village School serves about 150 to 160 students with a staff of 32 including educational technicians and support staff.

“The thing that I noticed right away was the tremendous amount of community support,” he said. “That’s key to the success of a school.” He said a school is a direct reflection of its community and Appleton Village School, with its high level of parental involvement and support, speaks well for the town.

“They have a great location for kids to be able to get out and become involved in the environment and what’s going on around them,” Bosk said. He said the mix of agriculture, forest and water in the area lends itself well to outdoor education.

“Getting out of doors is important to kids’ growth,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity there.”

Bosk said his experience in successful grant writing will be an asset and he also knows how to create efficiencies throughout the school.

“If you keep your ears open you can tap into it,” he said of the number of grants available for energy efficiency and educational purposes.

Bosk said he plans to take the expertise of those already in the building and use that experience and background on in-house staff development.

“We do that at Trenton right now,” he said. “Teachers meet once a week in the morning to work on literacy programs. It’s cost effective and you don’t have to send people far distances to get the same quality.”

Bosk said he hopes to develop more on-site sports programs at Appleton Village School, but has to review the site to see if there is room for athletic programs there.

“I’d like to beef up the library resources,” he said. “Its going to take some sitting in and listening to what some of the dreams of the teachers and parents are for their school. I want to facilitate those dreams.”

“Listening is what you do for the early stages of your tenure as a principal,” he said.

That listening will begin once he arrives at Appleton Village School in July. He said he will begin by exploring the physical plant and getting to know custodial and secretarial staff. He will also review the budget and work on reports and grants that need to be completed by the end of summer.

He said he hopes to meet staff members and parents as they drop by during the summer, and there will probably be an event at the start of school to introduce him to the community.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.