New superintendent looks forward to first year back in Wareham
Classes began on Monday at Wareham Public Schools, and the district’s new superintendent is looking forward to the year — though it isn’t his first in Wareham.
Dr. Matthew D’Andrea took over as superintendent on July 1, after former superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood retired earlier this summer.
D’Andrea formerly served as superintendent at Martha’s Vineyard Regional Schools in Vineyard Haven, and before that he worked as an administrator and teacher in several schools across the South Coast, including Wareham.
Sitting in his office the week before classes started, D’Andrea recounted how he’s spent much of the past few weeks arriving on campus and preparing for the start of the school year.
Along with the usual hustle and bustle of overseeing a school district in the leadup to the first day of class, D’Andrea has been doing a lot of “learning, listening,” and “seeing where we’re at,” he said.
He’s spent time visiting all the schools, chatting with townspeople and School Committee members, getting to know curricula and the budget, D’Andrea said.
It’s been about 15 years since D’Andrea last worked in Wareham, and some pretty big things have changed since he was last here: namely, the construction of the new elementary school.
“I commend the community on being persistent through the pandemic and getting that project done,” he said. “It is a beautiful school that will serve the community for many many years.”
But there are other changes he noted too, though, like an increased focus on social-emotional learning and making sure students feel emotionally and physically safe in school.
“That’s an important piece to have in place, because as long as they feel safe, then they’re ready to learn,” he said.
He also spoke to the same programs that he remembered having in the district in 2006 that are still around helping students today. One of those is called “Empowering Writers,” a part of what D’Andrea described as Wareham’s excellent writing programs.
D’Andrea said he’s a strong believer in the importance of writing, and he emphasized his focus on ensuring students leave Wareham with solid communication skills.
“By the time they graduate from the high school,” D’Andrea said, “the ability to write clearly, effectively, persuasively, the ability speak effectively, to read complex texts, to be able to draw conclusions from that and develop arguments out of that: That, to me, is the central piece of our mission, is that we can prepare our students to be effective communicators.
“That’s important to me.”
That’s an overarching goal for the district, one that D’Andrea hopes to see come to fruition as students graduate.
For this week, the new superintendent has more immediate goals to attend to — making sure the first week of school goes off without a hitch.