Scituate High grad will be school’s new principal

Scituate High grad will be school’s new principal

Hassell leaves Smithfield to move up the ranks

SCITUATE – A graduate of Scituate High School who later served three years as band director is stepping back into the halls of his former high school – this time as principal.

Michael Hassell, who has served as an assistant principal at Smithfield High School since 2014, will take over as Scituate High School’s principal starting July 1 when current leader Michael Sollitto begins his new role as Scituate’s assistant superintendent.

“Although I will miss the Smithfield community, I am eager to return home to my alma mater,” Hassell told The Valley Breeze & Observer via email. He said that he wasn’t actively looking to leave Smithfield, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for the Scituate position when it became available.

Hassell was appointed by the Scituate School Committee on Tuesday night.

Scituate Supt. Paul Lescault and Assistant Supt. Lawrence Filippelli both spoke highly of Hassell.

“I’ve been doing these interviews now for about 30 years,” said Lescault, who is retiring in June. “He was one of the very best that I’ve ever seen.”

Filippelli, who will be assuming the superintendent’s position on July 1, added, “Mike is an outstanding fit for us.”

Hassell says he’s excited to work with Sollitto and Filippelli “as they transition into their new roles to lead the district.

“They are some of the most well-respected educators in the state, and I know I will learn from them both.”

While he’s “ready and eager to continue the tradition of excellence in Scituate,” Hassell said he plans to spend his first few months as principal meeting with students, families, teachers, and community members, promising to listen, build relationships, and connect with former colleagues.

As far as long-term goals, Hassell said that he hopes to continue supporting the newly developed STEM coursework at the high school and continue expanding college and career partnership opportunities for Scituate students.

In Smithfield, Hassell served as the proficiency-based graduation coordinator. He redesigned the portfolio and presentation system for the classes of 2015 through 2021, developed a digital portfolio system beginning with the class of 2018, created a career exploration graduation requirement, among many other tasks, he said.

He said that he “never would have imagined” that he would move into a principal’s position two years after joining the Smithfield administrative team.

“I have been fortunate enough to work with such amazing students, teachers, parents, and mentors at Smithfield High School,” he said. “(Principal) Dan Kelley and the administrative team at Smithfield have given me the autonomy over the past two years to not only help manage the building but become an instructional and educational leader.”

Kelley told The Observer that he’s sad to see Hassell go, adding, “I think he will make an outstanding principal and I am extremely proud of Mike.”

Hassell lives in Coventry with his two children and wife, chair of the Special Education Department at West Warwick High School.

He has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Rhode Island College and a master’s degree in educational administration from Providence College.

Prior to joining the team in Smithfield, Hassell, who plays the trumpet among other instruments, was an instrumental music teacher from 2005 to 2008 for students in grades 6 to 12 at Scituate Middle School and Scituate High School.

From 2008 to 2014, he taught instrumental music for students in grades 4 through 12 in North Stonington, Conn., where he also served as the unified arts coordinator for the district.

Hassell is the fourth administrator to leave Smithfield in the past year. Last spring, Renee Palazzo left her role as a Smithfield High School assistant principal to serve as principal of Ponaganset High School.