The Working Waterfront

North Haven principal has small-town Maine background

Ken Spinney a Bangor native with elementary school experience

Courtney Naliboff
Posted 2018-11-13
Last Modified 2018-11-13

By Courtney Naliboff

North Haven Community School’s new principal, Ken Spinney, brings with him a lifetime of leadership experience and a love of small town life.

A lifetime Mainer, Spinney grew up in Bangor and moved to Skowhegan with his mother for high school. 

“I was highly into athletics. I played basketball, baseball, then I also drove standard bred race horses at the age of 16,” he said.

Athletics remained a passion through college.

“I got recruited to play a few places and I ended up playing baseball at Husson College,” Spinney said. The balance between travel and academics proved unsustainable, and Spinney left Husson after two years.

“I took a year off, went to South Florida, and trained racehorses for the Fancy Crown stable,” he said. He also worked with his father, a master electrician, and managed a hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

He returned to college on a Blaine House scholarship and obtained a degree in special education from University of Maine at Farmington. He continued racing horses in St. John, New Brunswick, and began teaching shortly after graduation.

“I’ve had a lot of different lenses in education which I think has provided me with some experiences that have helped me as a leader,” Spinney said. He worked in various special education environments as an ed tech, teacher, and learning specialist in eastern and southern Maine, and obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership at University of Southern Maine.

“I went to Wells, I interviewed for a couple positions, was finalist for a couple principal positions but was in a quandary because I didn’t know if I wanted to be a principal or [special education] director,” Spinney said. He became a special education director and later assistant principal at Wells Elementary School, a position he held for a decade.

“It was time to try something different,” Spinney said. “I think change is good once in a while.” Spinney became the assistant principal at Falmouth Elementary School, which at the time had 912 students enrolled in grades K-5.

“For me, my job was primarily discipline and that’s not what I want to do. I always wanted to be a principal in a small school.”

That desire inspired him to apply for the principal position at North Haven Community School, the smallest K-12 public school in the state. 

“I was impressed by the kindness, from the time I got on the boat to the time I left the island, between the staff, the interview committee, everyone was very cordial, kind, took me for tours, answered my questions,” Spinney said. “I was very overwhelmed by the beauty of the island.”

Spinney said he is looking forward to working with the students, staff and community.

“We have a gem of a school, with endless opportunities on what we can do together,” he said. “My strongest belief is that we’re all in this together. It takes community to have the most effective results in obtaining high quality achievement and the climate and culture that’s the driving force behind that.”

Courtney Naliboff teaches at North Haven Community School.