Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Aims for Unity
Dighton-Rehoboth School Superintendent William Runey wants to continue to unify the two member towns of the district.
On August 6, Rehoboth voters soundly rejected a proposal to withdraw Kindergarten through 8th grade from the district. “I don’t fault the Rehoboth (residents) for wanting to pursue that,” Runey told the Reporter. “I’m all about civic advocacy but I am glad we were able to prevail in that situation. Now we can focus on the concerns that Rehoboth has, to make ourselves a bigger and better district.”
The first day of school for staff is September 6. The first day of school for students is September 7.
Runey grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and attended Clemson University, where he majored in secondary education and math. “My Dad was a high school science teacher/athletic director and basketball coach,” Runey recalled. “He passed away when I was 14 and I saw the impact that he made as an educator and as a coach.”
After graduating from Clemson, Runey was hired to teach math and to coach football and basketball at Bishop England High School. “It was great,” Runey said. “To be able to have a homecoming of sorts. To teach and coach where I had gone to high school, where my parents had gone to high school. It was a great opportunity for me. I stayed there for 18 years.” Runey eventually became the Dean of Students and later on assistant principal and head basketball coach.
In 2006, Runey relocated to Massachusetts, where he served as the principal of Bishop Feehan High School. He was principal at Attleboro High School for 10 years before coming to Dighton-Rehoboth. “Moving to New England was a tough transition,” Runey said. “But coming into a family environment like Bishop Feehan made it a lot easier. It gave me the opportunity to run a building and be principal of a school.”
“Dighton-Rehoboth was a natural fit for me because of the fact it had a lot of community pride,” Runey continued, noting the vocational programs and the “strong academic profile” of the district were appealing. “We perform at a level above the state in almost every category,” Runey said.“But I don’t want to settle for just being better than the state. I want to be the best in the state.”
Runey is proud of the new administrative team he has assembled, which includes Assistant Superintendent Fred Souza. Souza and Runey have worked together for nine years. “I have always had tremendous respect for him as an instructional leader,” Runey said. “Fred is very strong in curriculum, very strong in data analysis.”
Robert Baxter is the business administrator for the district. “He is top notch,” Runey said. “The changes he has made in terms of transparency, in terms of establishing procedures and protocols, has improved the way that we operate dramatically.”
The district also has a new Director of Special Education, Juanita DiGioia, who is a former Dighton-Rehoboth assistant principal. “The fact that she has historical connections with the district gives her an advantage that many new employees would not necessarily have.”
Runey is hoping for more civility as the district prepares for another school year. “I think positivity and kindness are things that I want to stress to our young people,” Runey added. “We have to have high expectations. I have high expectations of myself. It’s okay to take risks, it’s okay to fail. It’s not about the failing, it’s how you respond to the failing. If you respond to it in such a way that you improve from it, then we’ve done our job.”
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