Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who's who and who's new in Cranston Public Schools

Cranston Herald
August 26, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

This year Cranston Public Schools has welcomed several new administrators to positions in Cranston. Taking the helm at Chester Barrows Elementary School is Principal Paul Heatherton, who took over mid-year last school year. Prior to arriving at Barrows, Heatherton was the assistant principal at Park View Middle School and a special education teacher at Hugh B. Bain Middle School for seven years before that.

Heatherton is excited to start his first full year at Barrows. He’s got a new PTO board and is hoping to tap into their enthusiasm as well.

“The PTO has ideas; I have ideas, so we’ll see all that we can do together,” said Heatherton. “We’re hoping to start a new school-wide theme of going green for our focus this year.”

Heatherton was excited that he has over $20,000 of new technology equipment coming into the building for students due to the fact that five of his staff members participated in the E2T2 technology training offered to the district this school year.

“We were in dire need of that,” he said.

Just down the road, over at Edward S. Rhodes Elementary School, Principal James Zanfini has come on board since the retirement of long-time principal Kenneth Blackman.

Zanfini has taught the past 10 years in Lincoln and brings with him a strong background in the elementary curriculum.

“I’m passionate about primary education,” he said. “It’s so important to reach elementary students in those first foundational years.”

Principal Zanfini is excited about continuing on with the work that Blackman began with his staff at Rhodes.

“I’m already impressed by the dedication of the teachers at Rhodes,” Zanfini said. “There’s a strong community of leaders on our staff. They’ve been working on science initiatives and technology training this summer.”

Zanfini is hoping to continue the momentum at Rhodes, moving forward doing what’s best for the children.

“When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I need to know each day that I did what’s best for the children. It’s not a job to me, it’s a gift,” he said.

After elementary school comes middle school, and there’s a new face over at Western Hills Middle School greeting the students this year.

Dr. Jacqueline Striano arrived at Western Hills in the late spring of 2010, finishing out the year there, after transitioning from Cranston High School West.

“I have been at Western Hills since last spring, and I love being a part of this colossal intellectual community,” said Striano. “From what I can see, Western Hills is a place that values inquisitive young minds, fostering an environment that is safe from bullying and intimidation and a building that continually strives for excellence.”

Striano has spent a large part of her summer working on scheduling, but has taken time out to travel on behalf of her students, visiting Lexington and Concord to do some research for the eighth-graders studying the American Revolution this year.

Prior to arriving in Cranston, Dr. Striano worked in both Connecticut and in Boston as a teacher and as an administrator, having taught special education, serving as a department head, and running an alternative school.

She enjoys connecting with her students, engaging in things they enjoy and connecting with their parents as well.

“I eat lunch with [the students], and they quiz me on historical trivia; usually, they win! I also try to keep up with another group of avid readers who come to my office and say, ‘We think you will like this book, read it with us,’” Striano said. “It is gratifying to see young people eager to learn and to work with parents who support their initiatives. I also enjoy talking to our Cobra Parents who inquire about curriculum, learning and how to work together to ensure that our students succeed.”

Park View Middle School welcomed a familiar face to a new position last spring. As the school’s former physical education instructor, Mike Crudale took over as assistant principal when then-Assistant Principal Christopher D’Ambrosio left the position to go to Cranston High School East.

Prior to arriving at Park View 15 years ago, Crudale was a faculty member at Western Hills Middle School for two years.

“I’m very excited about being in a new position in a school that I’ve been in for so many years,” said Crudale.

There is a time and place for everything, and Crudale, who is known for his antics on stage at school events, promises that he’ll continue to participate in school-wide activities.

Cranston High School West had the pleasure of welcoming Kim Magnelli as their new assistant principal this past spring. Magnelli began her teaching career when she student taught at Western Hills in 1991, and was hired there in 1994 as a math teacher. She worked at Bain briefly and then returned to WHMS in 1997. She was appointed assistant principal in 2005 and remained in that capacity until the spring of this year, when she moved over to Cranston West.

Magnelli is anticipating a great school year at West.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of the high school, and also being able to assist my former students from WHMS and their families,” said Magnelli.

West isn’t the only high school in town seeing a new face in administration.

Over at the New England Laborers/Cranston Public Schools charter high school, there is a new executive director as of Sept. 1.

Richard Pecorelli, former assistant director and recruitment coordinator since 2008, has taken over for Dr. Mike Silvia, who has now retired.

“I’m excited about taking on this position,” said Pecorelli.

Prior to arriving at NEL/CPS, Pecorelli was a math and science teacher in the Cranston middle schools.

“I also taught science here for one year before taking on the assistant director position,” said Pecorelli.

Central Administration, located in the Briggs Building on Park Avenue, has welcomed a new, but not so new, face to Cranston Public Schools this year as well.

Jeannine Nota-Masse, a long-time Cranston Public Schools employee until 2008, has returned to Cranston, taking on the position of Executive Director of Educational Programs and Services.

Nota-Masse began at Cranston High School East in 2001 as assistant principal and worked in the area of discipline for five years. For the next two years she worked as assistant principal in the area of Guidance.

“I really liked seeing the other side of the job,” Nota-Masse said. “I really loved it.”

In 2008 she left Cranston to take a job as the principal of East Greenwich High School, where she worked for two years before seizing the opportunity to return to her hometown this year.

“I’m surrounded by a team of people looking to make Cranston the best possible school district it could be,” Nota-Masse said. “The job is going to be challenging and there are going to be times when I’ll be learning things I may not be familiar with, but there’s a certain comfort level of working with people I’ve worked with for almost 10 years.”

Nota-Masse acknowledges that CPS is going through its own struggles financially, but emphasizes that the administrators in the district truly want to see the school system succeed.

“This is not just a job for the people here, it’s a vocation,” she said. “I have a lot of faith in what we do here, and I believe that the people of Cranston deserve the very best.”

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