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The Board of Education unanimously approved Stafford Thomas Jr. as Principal of Staples High School on June 20.
The Principal seat was vacated by James D’Amico, who earlier this year announced his resignation effective at the end of June.
While Thomas doesn’t have any specific potential policy changes in mind, he anticipates learning about the root of Staples’ success.
“I know it’s a tremendous school, so I’m looking forward to finding out what makes it such a great place,” Thomas said.
Thomas previously served for eight years as the Principal of Hillcrest Middle School in Trumbull (which won Connecticut Association of Schools’ Middle School of the Year for 2018-19).
Prior to becoming a school administrator, Thomas worked as Associate Director of Policy for the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. In this position, he says he worked closely with the Superintendent of Providence Public Schools.
According to Interim Superintendent Dr. David Abbey, the district received 40 applications for the position. Director of Human Resources John Bayers, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Anthony Buono and retired Newtown Superintendent Dr. Joseph Erardi reviewed the applications.
6 were identified as “outstanding school leaders,” who were then interviewed by a 16 person team.
Out of the six, two finalists were selected to be interviewed by an administrative team from the Central Office, and Thomas was endorsed unanimously by the team.
Thomas cites Staples’ prestige as the main reason for his interest in applying to be the principal.
“I think [Staples] is the top high school around, in my opinion, and it’s great that the community of the school system and that’s very important,” he said.
Brian Campbell ’21 believes that the next principal should have qualities that enable him to form genuine relationships with students.
“While administrative characteristics are undeniably important,” Campbell said, “it is even more important to consider traits representative of a good person that we can look up to and form a real bond with, not [just] as an administrator, but as a person-friendliness, kindness, and most importantly, true compassion to the issues that matter most to us.”
Thomas hopes to place emphasis on the student body and its wellbeing as principal.
“I really am excited for this opportunity,” Thomas said. “It’s all about the students. That’s what I’m there for, to support the students.”