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MHS Welcomes more than a dozen new faces in the classroom this school year

With his hairless dome and partial ZZ Top beard, science teacher Jack Pneuman most definitely brings a fresh look to the staff at Messalonskee High School this fall.

But Pneuman is far from being alone in bringing a change to the faculty. He is among more than a dozen other new faces in the classroom this school year, the largest such infusion principal Paula Callan has witnessed in her 21 years as a Messalonskee administrator. Callan applauds the development.

“I think it rejuvenates our school,” she said. “It brings new energy and life to the school year. They bring so much expertise and levels of experience and personalities. It gets us to learn … It’s definitely a win-win.”

Callan said the large contingent of new staff is a result of several staff members retiring and others leaving to take teaching positions at schools closer to their homes. 

In all, Messlalonskee features 15 educators and support staff who are part of Messalonskee for the first time. A handful of veteran staffers, meanwhile, have shifted to different positions at the school to further change the dynamics at the high school.

Pneuman, who grew up in  Catskill, N.Y., is naturally a highly animated person, a person with a frequently-flashed bright smile that his black-rimmed eyeglasses seem to magnify all the more.

He joins Messalonskee after teaching in Lewiston at the Margaret Murphy Centers for Children, a school that provides services to children with Autism Spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.

Pneuman said becoming an educator was not his initial goal after earning his undergraduate degree  from the State University of New York-Plattsburg with a major in biology and minor in chemistry.

Instead, he went to graduate school at the University of Maine with the objective of obtaining a doctorate in biochemistry. That didn’t work out, but that’s fine with Pneuman. He found a new passion in teaching, a profession he embraces with the enthusiasm of a young child on Christmas morning.

“I’m just a  very energetic person,” he said. “I’ve always loved science. I got my microscope when I was 6 years old. Science makes me so excited. I am just a fairly excitable person. I like to be really positive and energetic.”




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