2012-07-26 / News

New principal ready to lead Lawn Avenue

Deb DiBiase is in process of earning Ph.D. from JWU

DEBORAH DIBIASE DEBORAH DIBIASE Deborah DiBiase’s desk was stacked with papers, and the white walls were mostly bare, though the piles of work led to no noticeable dismay as she smiled from behind her desk and said, “Call me Deb.”

With her position as the new principal at Lawn Avenue School just beginning, she is now starting to settle into her office.

A Rhode Island native, DiBiase was born and raised in Cranston, where she currently lives. “I moved away for a very short time,” she said. “Only to Providence, and then back to Cranston.”

Her love of Jamestown beaches – and visits with a friend of hers who is a resident – gave her an insight into the community. “I’m a beach person,” she said. “If it’s near the ocean, on the ocean, close to the ocean, I’ve most likely been there – in Rhode Island anyway.”

“When I saw the posting that came out for the position, I did my research,” she said. Her research started online, and included visiting the town to speak with the people, which helped her finalize her decision. “I fell in love with it.”

According to DiBiase, one of the things that drew her into Jamestown was the sense of community, family and home. “I’ve said it several times over the last couple of months, I’m impressed on a daily basis with the people, the community, the school staff, the administration. It’s really an all-around team effort. It’s very rare in education to see such a sense of community involvement and family involvement. That was something that really drew me in.”

Her qualifications back her confi dent presence. DiBiase earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College in mathematics and secondary education, with a middle school endorsement. From there she attended Providence College where she received her master’s degree in mathematics. Currently she is working on a Ph.D. from Johnson and Wales University in educational leadership. “If all goes well, I should have my doctorate in two years,” she said. “I’m hoping for a year and a half.”

For the past year she worked as an advisor to aspiring principals in the state Department of Education’s principal residency network, which is a research-based leadership preparation program that prepares participants for principalships statewide. Aspiring leaders serve a one-year internship with a mentor principal and are awarded certification upon successful completion of the program requirements.

“It’s an organization that partners with Johnson and Wales University,” said DiBiase about the program. “It’s very rigorous, very time consuming and handson.” She knows this not only because she was recently advising participants, but because she went through the program during the first year of her studies at JWU. Ken Duva, Jamestown’s director of student services, is going through the program this year with Kathy Almanzor, the previous principal at Lawn Avenue School, as his mentor.

Even with the degrees and experience, she is still gaining knowledge about her new role. “Right now is my learning stage,” she said, noting this is the time to get acclimated to the school, staff, parents and community. “My goal is to continue the trajectory of growth that Jamestown schools has shown over the years, and just continue to improve, continue to get better and continue to do great things, because that’s what I see.”

DiBiase is happy to know that Almanzor will still be a part of the district, noting that the two just recently participated in a weeklong training for the Department of Education’s evaluation academy.

Advice from Almanzor and others is welcomed by DiBiase. “My standpoint is whatever advice, whatever suggestions, whatever information you can give me to become more well informed and know all of the ins and outs of everything,” she said.

DiBiase also plans on scheduling a meet and greet in September for parents and the community, which she says will be separate from open house, as that is for the children and their classes. She said notice of this will be posted on ConnectED, along with an email that will be sent out.

She also has plans to invite her new coworkers to her home for a gathering. “They don’t know this yet,” she said, “I’m planning on sending out an email to all of the staff because I’m going to have a cookout to get to know the staff.”

She added, “I’m really excited. It’s going to be great and I hope to stay here a very long time.”

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