As the calendar turns to the end of August – and summer – families will be spending the next 12 days readying their children for another school year in Foxborough.
For some students, it will be their first day at their respective school while others – the seasoned veterans of Foxborough education – will be embarking on their final year in the district.
No matter the experience, however, every student, teacher and administrator will notice changes throughout the district in 2012-13.
“We have two new principals,” said Foxborough Schools Superintendent Debra Spinelli. “Diane Myers-Pachla at the high school, who is a [Foxborough School District] returnee. She was a social studies teacher at the high school, a department head at the high school and she was assistant principal of the high school.
“She left around 2000 and went to work at Duxbury as the assistant principal of the high school there. She was there 10 years and became the Middleborough High School principal for two years and then was lured back to Foxborough.”
Myers-Pachla replaces Jeffrey Theodoss, who retired at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year.
Foxborough's other new principal this year is at the Vincent Igo Elementary School.
Michael Stanton has joined the district after spending seven years as the principal of Boyden Elementary School in Walpole. Stanton replaces Ingrid Allardi, who left Foxborough to become the Superintendent of Schools in Norfolk.
“When this opportunity came out I had to think long and hard because I was well established [in Walpole] but there were just so many positives with this district and I’m excited,” Stanton said.
Spinelli said the transition for both principals has gone smoothly this summer and she is looking forward to working with Stanton and Myers-Pachla in their new roles.
“Both are seasoned principals,” Spinelli said. “I would worry a lot more if we had hired a principal who had never been a principal … for me, that was a huge plus to have such talented and experienced people want to come work here. That took a lot of worry off of me.”
The high school is also experiencing change at the top of its athletic department with a new athletic director.
, who resigned in June after five years as FHS’ Athletic Director to take the same position at Holliston High School. Brown takes over the school’s athletic department with experience both on the field as a coach and in the classroom as a teacher. She served as the Warriors’ varsity girls’ soccer coach for the past five seasons and a Foxborough High School history teacher for the past seven years.
“We had tremendous interest,” Spinelli said of the school's athletic director position. “We had 94 applicants. Craig did set the bar with his professionalism and his organization so we wanted somebody who could come in, is organized and who understands the logistics. A lot of the job is the logistics – it’s scheduling, team practices, buses, where are they going if something gets cancelled … you really have to be organized.”
Spinelli said Brown’s experience as both a coach and teacher made her an ideal candidate because she could relate to student athletes on the field and in the classroom.
“It became clear to me that it was very important [to have teaching and coaching experience] because of the skills [the person] gains in the classroom for how to engage students and how to motivate them,” Spinelli said. “You have to keep up your academic profile in order to be eligible. How do you motivate kids? You know when something is off with them because you learn that in the classroom.
“She is just going to take off with her unbelievable passion for sports and her skills as a teacher. She has the administrative piece.”
Spinelli said with the principal hires she wanted experience because of changes to the state’s educator evaluation system throughout the district but with the athletic director, she wanted a known commodity leading the department.
“We wanted someone who knows the system, knows the work, knows the history of athletics in Foxborough,” Spinelli said. “We all agreed [Brown] was our strongest candidate.”
Others taking on new roles in the school district this year are Food Services Director Allison Johnson, whose
"[Johnson] is young, dynamic, has degrees in the area. So we are going to try some really interesting things,” Spinelli said. “We are all really looking forward to the food service program being improved to the level that families notice it and kids are talking about it.”
Janelle Erskine, who is taking over the K-12 wellness department after spending time as a wellness teacher and Kelly Arcacha, who takes over the art department after spending time as an art teacher.
“These people are great to work with and we call ourselves, jokingly, a destination of choice,” Spinelli said. “It really is a great place to work and we attract people who want a good work environment and a professional culture that is nurturing and will help people develop and help grow together.”
As for new programs in the schools this year, Spinelli said the district has added health, wellness and nutrition curriculum and bolstered its mathematics.
“We added a high school health [course] because we had no health at the high school,” Spinelli said. “Somewhere along the lines we lost it. My children had health in high school. I don’t really know what happened because I wasn’t here during that period of time. We have talked about it for the whole four years I have been here as the assistant superintendent and it’s really a huge gap for the kids.”
Spinelli said the district has had health at the middle school but the topics related to high school students are much different and need to be discussed in the classroom.
“High school kids need to hear about [these topics in] a health class from adults with content knowledge of personal health, nutrition, eating disorders, personal relationships, teen dating violence, etc.,” Spinelli said. “[Students need to learn] the affects of drug and alcohol abuse and how to develop the skills to combat peer pressure.”
As a result of the new course, all freshmen and sophomores will be required to take health in the high school now.
Spinelli said the district also added an elementary math specialist.
“We do well in math but we are trying to do a little bit better with enrichment challenge and instruction and services to kids,” Spinelli said. “We currently only had one math specialist that travelled to all three schools. K through four – 800-900 kids – you’re not going to be able to make a big difference. Ideally, we would like to add a third [specialist]. … People can expect more services to students with a math specialist.”
Spinelli says there’s still more the district would like to do to improve its educational programming but she remains conservative because of her fiscal responsibility to the town.
“We developed a short wish list and said ‘if we could develop one more thing what would it be?’ And that was the elementary math specialist,” Spinelli said. “We now have that position filled.”
As for the rest of the wish list? Spinelli said stay tuned.
For a look at the 2012-13 Foxborough Public Schools calendar,