2010-08-12 / Front Page

Kenworthy takes the helm at N.K.H.S.

By Dara Chadwick

Dr. Thomas Kenworthy Dr. Thomas Kenworthy Dr. Thomas Kenworthy, 38, is well aware of what he calls the “tumultuous” last few years that North Kingstown High School has faced.

But in his new role as the high school’s principal – which began on July 1 – Kenworthy is looking squarely toward the future.

“I want to put all that behind us,” he said. “We’re not going to focus on what has happened. This is about moving the school forward.”

That “moving forward” includes preparing for two major accreditation visits in the next few years – one around the school’s graduation requirements, which must implement some changes by 2012 so that students can receive Regentsapproved diplomas, and the other by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 2013.

“We will be there, but not without a lot of work,” he said. “We’re rallying people around the cause. The NEASC accreditation carries a lot of weight with colleges and universities.”

Changing regulations and new requirements present serious challenges, but they’re challenges for which Kenworthy is ready. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education/social studies from Rhode Island College, a Master’s degree in education in secondary administration from Providence College and a doctorate in educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University.

His career in education has included teaching social studies at LaSalle Academy and North Kingstown High School, as well as working as an assistant principal in Cumberland and later, as principal of North Cumberland Middle School.

Most recently, he was a fellow in the Office of High School Reform – now called the Office of Multiple Pathways – at the R.I. Dept. of Education. That experience, he said, prepared him well for his new role, as it involved visiting high schools and being well-versed in new high school regulations.

Kenworthy also has some ad- ditional experience that will serve him well in his role at N.K.H.S. – coaching.

He has coached both football and softball, and said that his experience in setting goals and motivating his team to reach those goals will be useful at the high school.

“There are quite a few similarities,” he said of the two roles. “I’m asking, ‘what are the goals we need [to meet] to continue to be a highperforming school?’”

Leading a school – like leading a team – is about identifying challenges and devising a plan to meet them, he said.

Among the challenges he’ll face at N.K.H.S. is the size of the school itself, he said. As of early August, 1,682 students were enrolled at the high school.

“We’re one of the few communities that has continued to grow,” he said.

Kenworthy said he’ll also focus on trying to be as visible as possible, both during the school day and after hours.

“There are many things pulling the principal in many different directions,” he said.

Kenworthy also said that the very characteristics about N.K.H.S. that present challenges – such as its size – are also the things that make the school a unique learning environment.

“This school has so much going for it,” he said. “There’s a wealth of opportunities that exist for our students.”

When asked what advice he might offer to incoming freshmen, he said, “Take advantage of those opportunities. But recognize that your primary focus is to learn.”

He also encouraged all students to find a way to build connections to the school – and to be part of the school community.

“It breaks my heart when that isn’t the case for some students,” he said.

As for what he’d like upperclassmen to know, Kenworthy said he hopes they realize that the high school experience mirrors life in general.

“Life will always present you with similar challenges,” he said.

When he isn’t at school, Kenworthy – who grew up in the Riverside section of East Providence and graduated from LaSalle Academy – spends as much time as possible with his wife, Elizabeth, and his two daughters – seven-year-old Victoria and four-week-old Tamsin. He also enjoys playing golf and “working out as much as I can,” he said.

And as for what he’d like parents to know?

“I’m here,” he said. “And I try to make myself available.”

School begins Sept. 1 at North Kingstown High School.

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