School Year in Dracut Begins with Changes


By: Dracut Selectman, Cathy Richards – September, 2011

The back to school shopping, reviewing of school supplies lists and bus schedules, and creating new lunch ideas has begun. Sports programs are already underway. In Dracut there are changes worth noting that should benefit the children in the public schools. The first change is the fact that all kindergarten is now full day. This does away with the lottery system and will provide relief to working parents who struggle with day care issues. The kindergarteners were moved from Parker Avenue to Brookside Elementary. This necessitated a new classroom at Brookside with one new teacher and one new paraprofessional. I spoke with Superintendent Dr. Stacy Scott today about his vision for the new school year, and we also talked about the cost of the new full day kindergarten. He said the district will receive $400,000 of new revenue due to the increased number of kindergarten students, so there will ultimately be no “cost” associated specifically with the full day classes.

Dr. Scott stated his goals include increased student performance first and foremost and secondly to provide quality service to students and parents. “We want to give students and their parents the sense that they are the focus of the district. We are very excited about the upcoming year. We are well positioned to have a great year and are ready to go.”

There are also some personnel changes. Dawn Smith joins us as the new principal of the Brookside Elementary School. She was the principal of the Middle School in Manchester, NH for 5 years and the special education/504 Coordinator for the district for several years. Richard Manley comes on board as the new principal for the Dracut High School.

He is excited about the new projects which will be underway soon at DHS. He managed construction projects at Windham High School in Windham, NH where he was principal. He was also a principal at North Middlesex Regional High School prior that. He is currently pursuing his doctorate degree. Dr. Robert Fitzgerald begins as the new principal of the Dracut Junior High School. He obtained his Doctorate of Education at Boston College and was assistant headmaster of Curriculum and Instruction at Odyssey High School in South Boston and prior to that vice principal of Salemwood School in Malden, Ma. Tamara Hutchins-Powell will act as “teaching Principal” at the Parker Elementary School where there remains 118 children. Tamara has experience as a third grade teacher at the Parker Avenue, and will be teaching with an intern, Anita Katseronis, as well as managing her new administrative duties.

As part of the Class of ’78 in Dracut I was fortunate enough to have had great teachers and the advantage of attentive administrators in Mr. Bruce Hutchins and Mr. Dan Smith. Students felt supported and welcomed by the faculty and staff. The feeling then of community at the school is still present today, exhibited during the recent debate about the town affording a renovation project for the high school. I still am a firm believer that children will get a great deal out of a school system when they apply themselves and work hard, no matter the district they are in, and that the best schools with all the luxuries do not make great students on their own. The children of Dracut have a vast array of resources to take advantage of and I hope they earnestly do.

Dr. Scott has put together a good team to tackle the challenges ahead. My hope for the children of Dracut is that when they graduate, they can name two or three teachers that stand out because they listened when that student was having a hard time, believed in them, and they felt supported in their efforts. Dracut has a lot to offer. Welcome to the new staff at our schools. Have a great year!

Cathy Richardson is a Selectman in Dracut, and is a member of the Education Subcommittee.