Michael Stanton has been in elementary education for over a decade after a brief career in finance because of his passion to make a difference in the lives of others.
“My philosophy is that I always try to make a difference,” Stanton said.
It’s why he shares a poem from Soup for the Soul at the beginning of each school year with teachers about making a difference each and every day in life and will carry that tradition to his new educational family at Igo Elementary this fall.
“You don’t think you can make a difference when you look at the big picture but when you break it down into the smaller picture you can really see that you make a difference,” Stanton said. “I try to take that into education.”
Stanton found his own inspiration through a family of educators.
“My dad is one of nine and my mother is one of 10,” Stanton said. “So between them I have about 60-plus cousins. I would say there’s at least 15 of us in education. My dad was in the Boston Public Schools for 42 years as a teacher and then an administrator. My mom was a teacher.”
But Stanton didn’t originally plan to go into education. After graduating from Boston College “a number of years ago,” he began a brief career in finance.
“I worked for a financial company in Boston and just did not feel like I was making a difference, literally,” Stanton said.
Inspired by his father’s impact in the classroom, Stanton decided to go back to school and pursue his own career in education.
He started out as a classroom teacher in Weymouth, where he taught for “several years,” before becoming the assistant principal of the Jordan Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield. He stayed in Mansfield for two years before taking over as principal of the Boyden Elementary School in Walpole – a position he has held for the past seven years.
When Dr. Ingrid Allardi left as principal of the Igo School at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year to become the Superintendent of Schools in Norfolk, Stanton was intrigued by the opening in Foxborough.
“I think when the opening at the Igo occurred I looked at the district first,” Stanton said. “What made it attractive to me when I went through the process was the rewards and challenges. They talk about 21st Century learning here, incorporating technology, and that got me excited.”
Current Taylor School principal Peter Regan, a friend of Stanton and former colleague in Mansfield, provided a lot of positive information about the Foxborough School District, which piqued Stanton’s interest in the Igo School.
“One of the co-principals [at the Jordan Jackson School] at the time [I was the assistant principal] is the principal at Taylor School, Pete Regan,” Stanton said. “Over the years I would come visit his school and he would visit mine in Walpole. We stayed in touch and we have a personal relationship as friends. When this came up and I had a chance to work with him again and hearing firsthand how much he enjoyed the district and the amount of support he was getting from the superintendent and the conversations they were having around learning, I became very interested in the position.”
Stanton said what ultimately made his decision to leave Walpole for Foxborough was the feeling he got when he toured the Igo School last spring after being named one of two finalists for the position.
“I walked into the school and you can’t put it on paper but you have a sense of what a school should look like and when I walked around that day an got to visit the classrooms and met with the teachers after school for 45 minutes it felt very comfortable and a place that I could call home,” Stanton said.
Since Stanton’s hire in June, the Norfolk resident has been getting used to his new “educational home,” driving around town and getting acclimated to the community.
“This is new,” Stanton said. “Just driving through [town] every once in a while [helps get acclimated]. I have some family that lived here many years ago. It’s interesting for me, part of what I do is drive around the different neighborhoods that comprise the Igo district just so I can see what the families are like.”
During his travels, Stanton has also become familiar with the many great sub shops in town.
“They have a lot of great sub shops around here that is something I wasn’t aware of,” Stanton said.
As for the transition from Boyden to Igo, Stanton said it has been a busy but productive summer.
“In the summertime it’s interesting because there’s not too many people here,” Stanton said. “The teachers have been phenomenal, the administrators helping out. It’s an interesting building for an elementary school. It used to be the high school so everything is very spread out. One of the goals in talking to the staff is how to bring the school together as a whole to celebrate what we have and create relationships kindergarten through fourth grade.”
Stanton says like many administrators he has a vision for what an elementary school should look like and he’s eager to see that vision turn to reality on Sept. 4.
“I can’t wait for opening day and to see the students and teachers,” Stanton said. “This is just a building in the summer but it comes alive when the students come here.”
As part of that vision, Stanton expects students to be learning and actively engaged but having fun too.
“They should be laughing [while learning],” Stanton said.
The new principal enjoys Igo School’s age group – kindergarten through fourth grade – because the children are sponges and share their discoveries on a daily basis.
“You can be talking about the Tooth Fairy visiting, their birthday and their pets and animals and then all of a sudden you’re talking about some algebra problem and you’re talking about history,” Stanton said. “I love this age group because you can still have fun and dress up on Halloween. I love to be reminded of how children see things. It’s that discovery of the first time.”
As for the students, Stanton says they can expect their new principal to be an advocate for them.
“I pride myself in doing what is in the best interest of a child,” Stanton said. … “I hope as principal, they see someone they can come to.”
To break the ice with his students, Stanton makes it a point to give each student in the school a high five. This personal greeting is well known in other districts.
“One thing I like to do is give high fives to every single student,” Stanton said. “Some days it hurts, especially when I was at the Jordan Jackson School [in Mansfield]. I had actually talked to a parent from there last year … I had been gone seven years and her daughter is now a senior in high school and she remembered me as ‘Mr. High Five.’ … It’s just a quick way to say ‘hi’ and stop and talk.”
Stanton said his primary goal at the beginning of the year is to establish new relationships with teachers, students and parents.
“Reaching out and connecting with parents and the families and also with the community at large,” Stanton said. “A lot of that is already here. I’m fortunate to come into a school that is very strong. It is my opportunity to learn what is here and see how I can have it continue to grow.”
The new principal added that he feels fortunate to be inheriting a great school in a great district and he is looking forward to continuing to build on its previous success.
“There’s so many strengths here,” Stanton said. … “There are just so many positives with this district. I’m excited about the new rewards and the new challenges that come along with it.”
And of course, making a difference.
“I can’t wait,” Stanton said. “I’m really looking forward to [day one] and I’m really looking forward to making the difference here. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity here. The staff is wonderful and the families and students are just top notch so it’s going to be a great year.”
School begins on Tuesday, Sept. 4.