School board welcomes new CHS principalBy Mike Berger
The School Committee last week enthusiastically welcomed newly hired CHS Principal Derek Folan, who signed a contract and will begin his duties July 1. Folan will leave his current position as assistant principal at Franklin High School.
In his introduction to the School Committee Thursday night, Folan said he will treat each student as a member of his own family and promised daily interaction with students, noting he will attend student events and may even go on a few field trips.
Folan started his career in journalism and has been at Franklin High for six years. Granatino said the search committee, made up of administrators, teachers, parents, and students, praised his communication skills and his love for excellence in instruction.
“He is a very charismatic person, articulate and energetic,” said Granatino.
Folan told the committee that he is humbled and honored to be chosen and said family is a big part of his philosophy toward education. Married with three children, Folan said he approaches the job “like a parent who takes care of a large family.”
Ironically, before he was introduced, CHS senior Eddie El Massih, the student representative to the School Committee, explained how he had met a school principal during a recent foreign exchange trip to Germany who interacted daily with students and went on field trips.
Folan, in response to El Massih’s comments, said he plans to “listen a great deal” to students and intends to “amplify the learning experience” at CHS.
“I like going on field trips,” he said. “I enjoy working with the kids; I very much have a hands-on attitude. I get up every day, wondering how we can improve the pursuit of education for our kids. I believe in moving forward and believe in high quality instruction. Words that are big for me are kindness, compassion, fairness, and [engagement].”
School Committee Chairman John Bonnanzio told Folan that Canton High is a “fantastic place to be and you have an exceptional staff.”
In other news Thursday night:
* The committee congratulated several staff members who recently won awards. Middle school science department coordinator Danette McGovern was presented with the “Master in the Middle” Award from the New England League of Middle Schools for her leadership, enthusiasm, and instruction in the schools for more than 20 years and her work on the school’s outdoor classroom. Granatino also reported that the Norfolk County Teachers Association recently honored retiring Luce fourth grade teacher Marie Lawrie and GMS technology specialist Mike Barucci. The association will also present a student award to CHS senior Kellie-Anne Crane.
* The committee heard an update from CHS adjustment counselor Donna Creed-Bauman on her “Garden’s Gate Project,” which seeks to restore and enhance five existing outdoor garden spaces at CHS. The gardens will be utilized as outdoor classrooms, music concert platforms, art studios, science labs, and “reflection spaces.”
Bauman is seeking help from the community at large with financial donations, landscape and garden expertise, and labor assistance. She has already received support from the Paul Matthews Foundation and is currently working on grants for additional financial assistance. Companies such as Allied Waste and Lowe’s have also expressed interest.
The project does need an arborist and a landscape architect. A statement on the project’s website, listed under the community link on the Canton Public Schools’ homepage, reads: “This is an ambitious project that requires funding, supplies, labor, and maintenance. Your opportunity to partner in this project could be as simple as making a donation of funds, plants, gardening supplies, or coming to pull weeds with the students … The success of this project will bestow students, faculty, businesses, and students with a legacy of environmental responsibility, beauty and grace for future students of Canton High School.”
Bauman’s goal is to have all five gardens operational within three years. Although she was disappointed with the amount of physical progress to date, Bonnanzio said she has done “extraordinary” work thus far and is “laying the foundation of a special program that will last.”
“You are a great model for the kids,” added committee member Jill Stevens.
* The committee reaffirmed its policy of recertifying the residency of all students entering grades 6 and 9 as well as all new students who enter the district at any time.
* The committee heard a PowerPoint presentation from middle school students Ben Berkowitz and Violya Madineedi about activities and future goals of the GMS Student Council. The 20-member council raised $2,000 through various events and donated portions to middle school athletics, the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, Toys for Tots, the Canton Food Pantry, Canton Community Problem Solvers, GMS Secret Santa, and a new eco-friendly lunch tray program. Teacher advisors Camille Killian and Matt Mascarielli said that future council activities will focus on student mentoring and working with incoming sixth graders.
* The School Committee will meet on Thursday, May 24, at 7 p.m. but is not sure of the date of its next meeting in June.
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