Steven LePage is the new superintendent of Northwestern Regional No. 7 Middle and High school.
What drew you to this position?
I’ve been a school administrator, assistant principal, principal for a total of 12 years all together. As my career progressed, I was encouraged to pursue central officepositions, such as the superintendent. So I went and got my certification to be prepared if an opportunity opened up for me. I still was unsure if I wanted to pursue that because I didn’t like the idea of being more distant from kids. I liked what I did as a teacher or coach, where I could be around children in my positions. I decided if I could do the position the way I wanted to, where I could still interact with students, then it would be of interest. After having a career as both the superintendent and assistant superintendent at Plainville schools, I moved here to NWR7.
Is there someone in your life you look up to, someone who inspires you?
I grew up with a few challenges in my family, but despite dealing with loss and other family issues, my mom has always unconditionally loved me. My grandparents were a big part of my childhood. I thought of my grandfather as my childhood hero. He bought me my first saxophone. That’s been a big part of my life. I also looked up to my grandmother and my brothers, my family. I’m also grateful for the educators in my life, my school counselor believed in me a lot.
Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
Points of success, winning a spelling bee in elementary school, winning the championships for high school football. Athletic achievements, band concerts. When I did my jazz solo in my senior year I won a scholarship. Only one senior could get it. It was a point of confidence for me. When I was little, my grandfather used to teach me how to play the ukulele. He was blind for the last few years of his life, but he still taught me how to play. That memory stays in my mind as a positive one.
What is something everyone who knows you would say about you?
They would say I care a lot about what I do, I work really hard, I’m someone who will be there if I’m needed. I care.
What is something few people know about you?
My upbringing and the struggles I dealt with through my childhood, and trouble with financial stability. No one really would think that about me since I come here every day in a suit. Sometimes your outer appearance can be a mask for all the things you may have experienced in your life. Some people are a complex book, and you can just be looking at the cover most days.
People also don’t know how adventurous I am. I rappelled off the top of Mohegan Sun Casino for a Special Olympics event that I raised a lot of money for – 33 stories. It was cool, It was kind of creepy because you’re looking at the mirrored glass, you can see the whole world behind you, you have to lean back and just trust the rope will hold you.
Where are you happiest? Describe it to me.
Probably in the woods. A lot of my positive memories come from the woods. Like building forts with my brother in the woods where we grew up, with sticks and any string we could find. We would pretend we were survivors in the woods, it was fun. I’ve gone on really great hikes. I love nature. If I want to be at peace and restore, I’ll go for a hike.
Tell me about one of the craziest things you’ve done.
I went to the Marine Corps educator workshop, so I went to Parris Island for four days, where the Marine Corps recruits train to become marines. I did that when I was assistant superintendent. They put you through some of the things recruits go through. We had to walk the yellow footprints, they screamed at you, we had to do pushups in sandpits, go into gas chambers. That was interesting, It was an adventure.
Tell me about your most incredible adventure.
I went on a solo trip to Mount Katahdin last June. I did about 28 miles of hikes in three days. I did the knife edge trail. It comes up to a sharp point, 1.1 mile hike. They say not to do it in the fog or clouds or rain – and I did it in mist and clouds and fog. I hiked alongside a 22-year-old whom I became friends with on the spot. It was cool. I camped out in the middle of the woods. I also climbed the two tallest mountains in Ireland.
Ella Gannon is a junior at Northwestern Regional High School. Her most recent interview was with the novelist Luanne Rice. The interview was edited for space.