GILFORD – It's been a life-changing few weeks for newly-named High School Principal Anthony Sperazzo. Not only did he get a promotion but over the weekend he also got married.
"I guess you could say it's been a great couple of weeks for me," said the energetic Sperazzo as he took some time to talk about himself and his vision for Gilford High School.
Sperazzo never stops moving. His two computers are set high on his desk so that he never has to sit while he's working at them. His office is neat as a pin — something he said he's been teased about since he was a youth.
"I guess I'm a little over organized," he said.
He's also athletic. A former physical education teacher, he runs marathons, sails, skis, swims and said he participate in just about every athletic event he can.
Although he hails from Ayre, Mass., now he's all Gilford.
Sperazzo graduated from Plymouth State University 11 years ago with a degree in Physical Education. He did his student teaching at Gilford Elementary School, fell in love with the district and the town and was hired to be the Physical Education and Health teacher at the middle school.
He considers himself a lifelong learner and while teaching at the middle school he continued his studies at Plymouth State, earning his Masters in Education and his certification to be a superintendent, should he decide to take that route someday.
Four years ago he was tapped to be assistant principal of the high school and as of July 1, he'll take over as principal while Peter Sawyer assumes the role of principal at the middle school.
In his role as principal, Sperazzo plans on spending as much time as possible with the students in his charge.
"I believe every student has a story and it's our job to understand enough of that story to ensure he or she gets the right education," he said. "There are many things (that go on in their lives) that go beyond the four walls of this school."
Sperazzo said he is particularly proud of the improvement he's seen in the student culture at the high school in the past four years.
"As we will report in June (to the School Board) our disciplinary data has gotten much better," he said.
"We've given clear expectations about behavior and have seen students rise to meet those expectations," he said.
Sperazzo said students need structure and they need to be held accountable. Gilford High School has seen marked improvements on that front, he added.
As principal he said one of his main jobs is to continue to keep Gilford High School a good place to work.
"We have a great staff and great teachers," he said, noting teacher and staff morale is critical to student learning. "We want our staff to want to be here."
"We have strong professional development programs that are designed to help the teachers challenge students to think critically, invest in what their learning, and continue to be active learners," he said.
When asked his opinion on grade weighing – a topic of acute interest in Gilford these days – Sperazzo was quick not to be backed into a corner but said his overall take-away was how interested and invested parents were in their children's eduction.
"It's a three-pronged approach," he said, saying learning stems from parent support, well-qualified and talented educators and from the child him or herself.
"It's gotta come from inside, from personalizing education," Sperazzo said.
When asked how he was going the reach the parents who weren't at the recent meetings of the School Board and the Policy Committee, he said he wanted to start more community outreach – and reaching deeper and different students than those who are typically spotlighted by the community like those who participate in athletes, music, and theater. (Three disciplines Gilford High School consistently excels in statewide.)
He said there are Gilford students who are doing great and exciting work at the Huot Technical Center, at the Agricultural Program at the Winnisquam Regional High School, and online with computer classes.
"I'd like to see them get some recognition and publicity as well," he said.
Above all, Sperazzo wants to see the school continually demand its students think critically, think outside the box, and analyze data to come up with their own conclusions.
And while he spends his spring break on his honeymoon and his summer teaching sailing, he said he'll also be preparing for when the teachers and students return this fall for some more rigorous academics, challenging after-school programs and some fun while learning.
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