Ponaganset opens Tuesday with new leadership

Ponaganset opens Tuesday with new leadership

GLOCESTER - When students return to Ponaganset High School next week, they will find a new principal and a new assistant principal in charge at the 700-student secondary school.

David Estes replaces former principal Sandra Nolan at the high school this year and Alisa Diakite has been hired as assistant principal, according to Michael Barnes, superintendent of the Foster-Glocester Regional School System. "We are extremely excited to have both administrators joining our team," Barnes said.

Teachers are required to report to school this Friday, Aug. 23, and school opens throughout the district, grades K-12, on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Estimated enrollments are 480 students at the middle school, Barnes said, and "just under 700" at the high school. These numbers, however, are "fluid," he warned earlier this week because new registrations are coming in daily.

Regarding the new administrators, Barnes said both have taken part in leadership training at the Rhode Island Department of Education and both have spent time working in the Providence public school system. Appointed in June, Estes took over Ponaganset High on July 1. A Cumberland resident, he formerly was assistant principal at Central High School in Providence.

Estes has experience as a teacher and leader at charter, public and private schools, according to Barnes. He is also a former military officer with company command experience.

Diakite spent 18 years in the Providence school system, but most recently was at Central Falls High School last year. Barnes noted that she has experience at the middle and secondary levels, so "we're counting on her to help the transition of students from middle to high school."

Barnes, named Rhode Island's superintendent of the year last week, said he is particularly pleased that both the middle and high schools have been recognized by RIDE as "over-performing," "leading" schools, and that standardized test scores have improved over the last five years, particularly in math and reading where Barnes said Ponaganset's rate of increase was the highest in the state.

Plans are in the works to expand Ponaganset High's STEM Academy, an intensive series of sequential classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics where students can earn college credit.

The school received a $50,000 grant from RIDE for STEM, Barnes said, and funds will be used to purchase equipment and pay for training in what is now the second year of a three-year phase-in of the PHS academy. The summer training saw four PHS teachers spend two weeks at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass., part of an agreement that will see PHS students earn college credit for STEM courses.

New construction during the summer saw completion of the reconstructed track at the track and field facility. In the next two years, Barnes said, plans are to reconstruct the tennis courts.

Information about bus routes will be available on the district's website, www.fg.k12.ri.us .