Superintendent, principal set to begin roles
BY JOSH FARNSWORTH
Lucille DiLeo (left) with Ted Friend. SUTTON – New superintendent Ted Friend and new Sutton High School Principal Lucille DiLeo have spent their summer steadily preparing for the school year. This means countless hours working to make sure their respective offices are primed to handle the demanding workload.
Friend and DiLeo are set to fill their high profile roles in the Sutton school system as the 2010-2011 academic year opened its doors to students this week. The two educators said their excitement level 48 hours prior to the first bell was gradually getting harder to contain.
As the students stride through the doors Wednesday morning, both are hoping for one thing – that their offices can do without them.
“I am pretty relaxed, surprisingly, but very excited,” said Friend. “I am hoping my Day 1 will have me out of my office all day going into classrooms and setting the tone. All administrators need to be where the work is carried out.”
“Starting new positions is a common thread that ties us together,” said DiLeo. “We have already worked a lot together this summer and we are both looking forward to our respective challenges.”
Friend was hired after an extensive search last year to replace Dr. Cecilia DiBella, who decided to retire after the 2009-2010 school year. Friend was most recently the associate superintendent in the Tantasqua Regional school system. He also has experience in special education, 11 years as an elementary school teacher in Worcester, and describes his teaching style as supremely hands-on.
DiLeo – a 30-year resident of Sutton – takes over as high school principal following the departure of Paul Daigle. She has served Sutton for the last few years as the curriculum director – a position eliminated this spring due to budget constraints. DiLeo said she will assume the responsibilities of her old position for now.
Friend’s goals for the year include a set of what he calls “non-negotiables” when it comes to teaching in the school system. He believes not arguing with students, refraining from yelling, eliminating sarcasm, and treating each other with respect are four basic building blocks from which to cultivate a professional and community-friendly learning environment.
“We need to be role models for children,” he said. “I think respect is very important in an organization such as a school. Also, in my experiences as a teacher and administrator, when I drive home and reflect on a day where I yelled at a student, it accomplished nothing.
“You need to have respect, empathy and passion for this profession,” he added. “Teaching begins with the heart, not the brain.”
DiLeo said her immediate priorities as principal include catching the school up to speed on 21st Century teaching practices. She envisions greater use of technology through the upgraded high speed fiber line, extensive firewall, and expanded server capacity, and a more “collaborative and global effort” which includes an array of communityinvolved projects.
“I am looking forward to making more documented community connections with community service learning,” she said.
Friend and DiLeo also enter a school year that will be filled with preparation and then finally physical work on the new school building project that was approved by residents this spring.
The current timeline has 16 modular classrooms being placed on the baseball field in March or April, with full occupancy possible by June.
Demolition of the current middle/ high school section of the building is scheduled for next summer.
Middle school teachers will move into the portable rooms, as well as elementary school classes for the following year as construction will be on-going. Friend will also relocate his office.
He said room will be tight, but will save the district a “substantial amount of money” by not ordering more modular rooms.
Coming together, however, is what Friend and DiLeo are aiming to reiterate during their tenures on Boston Road. Complete culture overhaul is not in their plan books. They feel improvement will be built upon an already-sturdy foundation.
“I spent time talking with some students this summer and there is not one who does not speak highly of the schools here,” he said. “I see my job as a support for the great teachers we have here.”
“We are making changes that are more community-based than anything,” said DiLeo. “We are going to utilize the school homepage more to communicate. The PTO has fantastic ideas on how to grow in the community. People in Sutton want to be a part of the process, and that is what makes this town so special.
“We have a jewel of a school here that gets enhanced [in value] every year,” said DiLeo.
Friend said he expects his lack of office time will help hi learn as much about the students, teachers, faculty, and parents as possible.
He hopes, in turn, they get to know him and his family, which includes a wife and three kids. He said he believes in values and instilling his nonnegotiables in the staff.
He said it will take time, but time is what Friend will now have a lot of moving forward.
“I want to create an atmosphere of learning where the kids do not stop working because the superintendent is in the room,” he said. “This is not just a job in this line of work, it is about the community as well. This will take several years, but I am in this job for the long haul.”