WALDO — Rick Amero, a longtime educator with several decades of experience, will take over as director of Waldo County Technical Center starting Oct. 18.

Over the course of his 32-year tenure at Monmouth Academy, Amero has been principal, athletic director, teacher, coach, adviser and mentor. “I’ve done everything but drive a bus,” he said. Having grown up in Monmouth, he is also a graduate of the academy, and of Husson University.

With 21 years in the classroom and 10 as principal, Amero said he has always enjoyed working with young people and aspired to be a teacher even while in high school. “I’m very fortunate,” he said.

He became interested in the profession after volunteering with youth athletics, a job that eventually morphed into working with students in a local classroom. “Once I worked with kids,” he said, “I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I enjoyed it.”

Early in his career, Amero taught business education, including accounting, personal finance and computers. Over the years, he said, schools have dropped programs such as industrial arts, technical education and cooperative educational programs that offer part-time or apprenticeship opportunities, in favor of encouraging students to attend a four-year college after graduating from high school.

Amero said he has heard people use the term “those kids” when referring to students at technical schools — which “really bothered me. I think schools can do a better job with that.”

At Monmouth, 23 students out of 190 travel 25 miles to attend Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta. “We do whatever we can to expose students to these opportunities,” he said.

Amero said he has seen the opportunities technical schools provide in his own family with his son, whom he describes as a “hands-on learner.”

It was not until his son attended the Augusta Tech Center in his junior year of high school that Amero saw him thrive. “I saw it as a principal,” he said, “and I also saw it as a dad.”

There is a scarcity of technical trade workers in the automotive, electrical and building industries. “All these things excite me about becoming director,” Amero said.

The transition from Monmouth has not been easy, he said, especially after being in a position for over a decade. “Without a doubt this was a difficult decision…” he wrote in a letter to students and staff.

“It’s an emotional time,” he said. Amero first met with teachers, who understood his professional move to WCTC as a new challenge for him.

The next day he told students of his plan and assured them he was not abandoning them to go to another high school. Amero has built strong bonds over the years, especially with the senior class, and plans to attend graduation next spring.

The district has hired a new principal, he said, “and I will try to help with the transition here.” At the same time, he is “chomping at the bit” to start his new chapter at WCTC.

Amero said he met with the staff at WCTC a couple of weeks ago and hoped that he had put their “anxieties at ease.”

“I’m so thankful to (Student Services Coordinator/Interim Director) Bonnie Kein for keeping things moving,” he said, “essentially doing two roles.

“I am anxious to meet the kids and see them engaged in something they love,” Amero said, ” and also I’m excited to meet the community — parents and business members — and explore ways to partner with them.”