The search for a new King Philip Regional High School principal has ended, and the new person is very familiar with the school system. Lisa Oliveira, the associate principal at King Philip Middle School, will take over the top job at the high school this summer. According to Superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski, the 48 candidates in the pool for the position were very strong, and the four finalists were all highly qualified candidates. "The decision came down to looking at two prime factors," said Zielinski. "Stability for the school and school system and the ability for an individual to come and hit the ground running."
After four years at the King Philip Middle School, Zielinski believes Oliveria fits those requirements.
Zielinski added Oliveira's work with students, parents and the support of the teaching staff were all areas of strength. "One of the pieces that really stood out during the site visits was her work with parents and students as it relates to a child's whole education," Zielinski said. "When there is an issue with a child, she really brings that team together to work with and around a child's needs to get what needs to be done. The students know she has their back and she's supportive of the teachers."
Oliveria will replace Robert Wargo who has been named principal of Scituate High School. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University and holds master's degrees from Endicott College and American International College. She earned her bachelor's degree from Wells College. Prior to arriving at King Philip Middle School, she was a guidance counselor at Blackstone-Millville Regional School District and was a faculty member at the Connecting Link.
The appointment to the top administrative position is extremely for Oliveria. "I am absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead KPHS," she said. "Having been on the administrative team for the past four years, I knew I wanted to pursue this opportunity because we have great students, very supportive parents who care about providing excellent education for their children and an outstanding staff. I am very fortunate."
Oliveira says during her time at KPMS she was impressed early on with the concern the staff showed for the students and their overall commitment to education. She says when she first arrived the KPMS staff worked on celebrating the success of students in a more public manner and this has really had an impact on the culture of the school. "The teachers strive for performance above excellence now and take pride in sharing their accomplishments with the community," Oliveira says. "We have experienced so much success this year."
She cited accomplishments of both teachers and students. Oliveira points to the recognition math teacher Whitney Hartwell received from the New England Patriots as one of the "Super People for the Super Bowl" and the success two teams of students achieved by taking gold medals in an academic competition at MIT.
Looking forward to her new position, Oliviera hopes to continue the work Wargo did in building a positive climate at the high school for students. She is also aware that her responsibility for student discipline at the middle school may make some concerned there will be major changes coming to the high school. "I recognize that due to my role as disciplinarian, students may be concerned about sweeping changes," she says. "One student asked me at the focus group, 'Are you going to change the dress code?' I had to chuckle a bit at the perception, but my answer is this, it is important to maintain the student culture that has been established."
Oliviera added, "I don't plan on changing policy. There is a venue for that. Policy is developed with the school council which is comprised of students, parents and teachers. My job is to listen to their collective voices."
Pending negotiation of a contract, Zielinski expects Oliveira to have a transition time with Mr. Wargo prior to him leaving on June 30. Her position at the middle school will be posted.
Once Oliviera takes over her initial goals will be to build a sense of stability and trust and she believes her strength in analyzing teaching practices will be key. "We have a lot of work to do this year with going through the [New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation] process and working collaboratively with the [King Philip Teacher Association] to develop the best evaluation tool we can," she says. "This is very exciting for me as this is the focus of my dissertation. Specifically, I am interested in how students can provide feedback to teachers so that they may reflect and improve their instruction."
Ultimately she is looking for improvement and that, she says, requires change and adoption of new innovations. It requires vision, collaboration, a plan and resources. "Currently, resources are very tight for all educational institutions so hopefully we can get creative to provide our teachers with what they need to examine student data, take risks, reflect and collaborate," Olivera says. "The sky is the limit because our students are the greatest."