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Rowe principal: 'I like what I do'
MAN IN CHARGE — George Sincerbeaux has been the principal at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School for 11 years.
OXFORD HILLS — George Sincerbeaux has been an educator for 38 years, and said that being a principal is his life-long passion.
Sincerbeaux has held numerous jobs, from security officer in the U.S. Army, to bartending, and even volunteer firefighting, but he said nothing compares to the joys of being a full-time principal at the Guy E. Rowe School in Norway.
"I've done a lot of things, and they were all challenges," he said. "But most of all, I like interacting with the kids."
Sincerbeaux has been the principal of the Rowe School for 11 years.
He said that his career in education has been a journey, and what he learned from being a teacher, counselor, and athletic director, has given him the skills he needs to be a notable principal.
"Being a school counselor, I got the feeling I could help people. Hearing former students come back and say, 'I'm so glad you steered me in the right direction' or 'you really helped me.' ... I use [those] skills every day as a principal. I love teaching. I always did," he said.
Sincerbeaux said in order to achieve goals, it's important to believe you can actually do it, even if it takes a little encouragement.
"It was Mark Eastman, the former superintendent here that told me, 'Maybe it's time to move to the next level,'" he said. "So I did. ... I am going to give him the credit."
Sincerbeaux admitted that while he loves his job, there are always going to be challenges. He said the key to being a good principal is learning how to work on a team.
"It's kind of like what I did in the military," he said. "You're only as good as the team you make. We go out of our way to make a powerful team here. ... The biggest challenge is to get the right people in here. We do everything hand in hand. It makes leadership a lot easier when that happens."
Beyond high school
While Sincerbeaux understands that not everyone is going to go to college, he pointed out that everyone has the opportunity to aspire higher, no matter what path in life they choose.
Aspiring higher, said Sincerbeaux, isn't just about getting into a prestigious college.
He said that there are other ways to earn a great education, like applying yourself to a job you never thought you could do.
Sincerbeaux said, as a principal, he has dealt with kids concerned that they would "never amount to anything." By asking them what they enjoy doing, he proves to them that they can succeed at whatever it is they choose to do, as long as they apply themselves.
Sincerbeaux received his bachelor's degree in education from Norwich University, a college that offers one of two leadership paths – traditional or military.
Sincerbeaux chose the military path.
"I needed some direction and discipline, so I chose to go to a military school," he said. "It was the greatest decision I've ever made in my life. ... I happened to be in Germany for the 1972 Munich Olympics. ... I was there when the Israelites were killed. To see what that will do to a wonderful event, still sends chills. It's amazing."
Aside from working in the schools, Sincerbeaux was a sugar refinery worker during the Cuban sugar cane crisis in the 60s; a steel mill worker; a construction worker; a manager of Sears, Roebuck; a U.S. Army drug counselor and artillery officer; a bartender; and a volunteer firefighter.
"Sure, we want to get everybody to aspire higher, but not everybody is gonna go to college. ... Granted, to get a good job now you almost have to, but you still need the people that are going to feed us, and keep our machines running – and without those people we aren't going to survive," he said.
The grass is greener
Though going to college does not automatically make one smarter than the next person, Sincerbeaux encourages students to apply.
"Let's face it— If you look at the statistics, if you just have a high school diploma, the odds of being gainfully employed aren't good right now in this economy."
Along with Norwich University, Sincerbeaux also received his master's in counseling from Ball State University through an overseas program while he was in the Army, and later got his master's in education leadership at the University of Maine.
According to Sincerbeaux, he definitely made the right decision to go to college.
"If you got a high school diploma and you went to our Oxford Hills Technical School and you really got that skill for fixing engines, then you can go on and get some training," he said, "and with the electronics of engines now, just the old high school diploma ... it's pretty hard to do anything with that now. If you take a car that's reasonably new, they don't just listen to it — they put some diagnostics into it and tell you what it is. That takes training."
Sincerbeaux's advice about choosing a college is that "you have to visit it, and make sure the fit is there."
He said it's all about the location.
"If you believe the grass is greener on the other side, make sure it really is greener," he said.
"I like what I do. I still love the kids, and I drive from Westbrook every day and I wouldn't change it for anything," he said. "I will end up retiring as the principal here."