principal Wayne Hester is retiring at the end of this current school year, but Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marguerite Rizzi didn’t have to look far for his successor—she found one in Principal .
Dr. Rizzi announced at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting that Colantonio would become principal at the middle school upon Hester’s retirement. Meanwhile, the school department will start a “national search” for Colantonio’s replacement at SHS.
Dr. Rizzi said that Stoughton High is the “flagship of the district,” but “in many ways it is more difficult” to find a middle school principal.
“It’s sad for high school faculty and students, but the O’Donnell Middle School faculty is ecstatic about it,” Dr. Rizzi said.
“Due to a number of factors” Colantonio asked if he could replace Hester, Dr. Rizzi said. She said that Stoughton has “one of the better middle schools in the state” and Colantonio would “continue and further” Hester’s work while there.
Colantonio joined the Stoughton Public School system as an English teacher in 2001. He became vice principal at the OMS for the 2007-2008 school year. When SHS principal Brett Dickens left prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year, Colantonio became principal at the high school.
Colantonio said he was returning to his “old stomping grounds.” He said this choice to go back to the OMS was entirely his decision.
“Having done both, I felt I could make a bigger impact down there [at the OMS],” Colantonio said. He said if he returned to the classroom, he would teach high school, but as an administrator, middle school was his top choice.
“I miss how shapeable they are at that age,” Colantonio said. He said you can take a child with discipline or work ethic problems and help them change during their middle school years.
Colantonio, displaying his trademark humor, cracked that one of the other factors in his decision was that he’s taller down at the middle school.
“At sixth grade lunch I’m actually pretty tall,” he joked.
As a former coach at SHS (while he was a teacher there), Colantonio said he looked at the middle school as a “feeder program” for the high school.
As for his replacement at SHS, Colantonio said either of his assistants—Hope Fernandes and Mike O’Neil—“could do the job.” However, he said neither has three-years experience as a vice principal, but “skill-wise” both are capable. Fernandes and O’Neil started working at Stoughton High last school year.
He also said the two assistants at the middle school—David Guglia and Barbara Starkie—could be potential principals at SHS, but joked that he would rather see them remain at the OMS, working with him next year.
Hester has been at the OMS since 2000, first as a vice principal, before becoming principal in 2003.
“He’ll be tough to follow,” Colantonio said. “I have big shoes to fill.”
Literally—Colantonio is a size 8; Hester a size 12.
The School Committee verbally gave Colantonio its support.
“The rapport you had with that age group [middle school] is incredible,” School Committee Chair Joyce Husseini said. “You made a big impact on their lives.”
“I can’t imagine a better background to be an outstanding principal at the middle school,” vice chair Tom Colburn said.