New CHS principal ready for start of schoolBy Mary Ann Price
When he was young, Derek Folan worked in his parents’ restaurant — doing every job from sweeping floors to clearing tables. Canton High School’s new principal said this week the experience taught him more than how to run a successful business.
Folan, who began on July 1, brings a wide range of experience to the position. While earning a degree in English and journalism at the University of New Hampshire, he spent summers working with the North Attleboro Recreation Department as a playground counselor and program coordinator. After graduating, he worked for the sports department of the Concord Monitor and also for Newsday.
While at Newsday, he lived in a dorm at SUNY Farmingdale and had the opportunity to work in a tutoring center with students from Brooklyn. “I felt a certain connection with them,” Folan said. “I kept thinking, ‘Maybe this is something I’d be good at.’”
He went on to Bridgewater State College, received his teaching certification, and student-taught at North Attleboro High School. He then taught special needs for a year as an educational assistant in a program for the Bi-County Collaborative before returning to North Attleboro High where he taught English and coached both football and tennis. He also served on the School Council and Faculty Advisory Council, and he helped develop and draft the school’s MCAS English Review Curriculum, which was designed to enhance the reading and writing skills of at‐risk students.
“I really got to see how a building works,” Folan said of his experience at North Attleboro. “I learned how to move it forward. I was given leadership opportunities right off the bat.”
He went on to earn a master’s degree in education and organizational management and administrative certification in 2005, and in 2006 he became the assistant principal of Franklin High School, where he oversaw student accountability, services and discipline for over 800 students in grades 10 and 12.
A married father of three, Folan enjoys spending his free time with his family and a strong group of friends. He loves being outdoors and recently took part in two outdoor fundraisers. One was a Tough Mudder, described as a “hardcore 10- to 12-mile obstacle course” designed by British Special Forces that raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project while also testing one’s “all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” The other event was a sprint triathlon, in which he swam 180 yards, biked ten miles, and ran three miles to raise money to help pay medical expenses for the daughter of one of his high school classmates who has a rare form of cancer.
Folan spent two days at CHS in June, and throughout the summer he has met with two different transition teams comprising high school staff and faculty. He has met with town officials and residents and took a tour of the town accompanied by School Resource Officer Chip Yeaton.
Folan said there were two things that stood out to him during his ride through Canton. “There’s a great mix of town pride — residents who have been here and new residents,” he said. “You have to be cognizant and respectful of both.”
He was also impressed by the industry in town and hopes to forge a connection between the businesses and the high school. “I feel fortunate that there’s this great resource,” he added. “We’ll use it to help our students grow.”
Folan is excited about the new school year and is looking forward to working with the faculty. “They’re an extremely strong and talented group,” he said. “They’re deeply invested in the school. I will place high expectations on their work and professionalism as they pursue programs for our kids.”
He has high expectations for himself and plans to be in the hallways greeting students and letting them know that they can approach him with their concerns. “Relationships are really important to me,” he said. So is student progress.
“We’re all about teaching and learning.” Folan explained. “We have to commit ourselves to those two things. Continuous improvement: you strive to be better, you think about the work you do and never lose that. We’re going to do some great things.”
He acknowledged that the first day of school is a time of anxiety for students, and he will work hard to make it a positive one.
“We’re in this together; we’re going to support one another,” he said. “I hope they leave with smiles on their faces and ready to get back to work.”
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