July 23, 2018

Dighton-Rehoboth Students Heading Back to School

Laura Calverley


Students in the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional school district will be returning to school on September 6. Superintendent Anthony Azar says they are looking forward to another great year.

Azar says the new team at the high school is “top notch.” Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School has a new principal, John Gould. He replaces Kevin Braga who left in February to become Assistant Superintendent/Principal at Bristol County Agricultural High School. Gould comes to the district from Dartmouth High School, where he served as principal for three years. He started the position on July 1. “He was the unanimous choice of the school committee and myself,” Azar said.

D-R High School also has a new Assistant Principal, Michael Martone, who has served as Assistant Principal at Beckwith Middle School for two years. He replaces Marie-Juanita DiGioia, who left to become Special Education Coordinator at Bristol Aggie. Martone has a great deal of experience working with high school students. He was a special education teacher at North Attleboro High School for many years.

Also at the high school, Lisa Karantonakis, who served as special education coordinator (a school-year position) has been appointed to a new position, Director of Student Support (a full-year position). She has worked as special education coordinator at D-R for the past year and prior to that, was assistant special ed. coordinator in Medway.

Interim Special Education Coordinator Janet Griffith who has been in the position for two years, has been appointed permanently effective July 1.

Stasia Peters, Director of Career and Technical Education at the high school retired at the end of last year and the district is currently searching for a replacement. Peters will stay on as a consultant for a short time.

Jeanne Bonneau, who was serving as Interim Principal at the high school and previously served as interim principal at Beckwith, will continue to be a consultant for the district.

The district is also working on upgrading its school buildings. New door security systems will be installed at all five buildings prior to the opening of school. Rehoboth voters at a special election in June approved $87,203 for the new doors. Voters also approved approximately $3.6 million for roof and window replacement at Palmer River Elementary School and new windows at Beckwith Middle Schools. Beckwith had a new roof installed about three years ago. “We’re very thankful for what transpired on June 27 (at town meeting),” Azar said.

The district will be going out to bid on the roofs and windows soon and the roof work may start this fall depending on a number of factors. The new windows will probably not be installed until next summer. Azar says this work, in addition to more than $7 million in other facility improvements that have been undertaken as part of an agreement with Trane, U.S., will solidify the school buildings for an estimated 25 years. The other improvements include new heating systems and boilers. However, a new roof is needed at the high school and the school department will be asking for community support in the fall to pay for it.

The district’s number one priority was the buildings, says Azar. Now that plans are in place for the buildings, the district will be focusing on the athletic fields. The soccer fields have been an ongoing project for years. The team is still playing at Bliss Field in Rehoboth. “That will be our next challenge, to get our fields up to speed,” Azar said. The district is also considering resurfacing the track and tennis courts and the football field also needs work.

In September, there will also be some curriculum changes. The district is starting a new English Language Arts program, Reach from National Geographic, for Pre-K to fourth graders. The program was piloted last year. It was chosen by a committee out of eight programs. “The committee vetted out what the best program for the district would be based on a rubric that was created,” Azar said.

The district is also going into its third year using the math program “Envisions.”  “There is a consistent curriculum for math from elementary right through to high school,” Azar said.

In the coming year, the administration will be looking at data from its Full Day Kindergarten program, which was started in the district four years ago, to see how it is impacting scores. “Our student achievement should show the benefits,” Azar said. Azar credits the school committee for supporting programs like Full Day K. “Our school committee over the last three years has been very forthcoming. Their foresight has been refreshing to say the least,” Azar said.

Azar continues to conduct his district learning walks three times a year, which gives a first-hand look at teaching and learning in the classroom in all the schools.


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