By ARDEN BASTIA In a unanimous vote, the Warwick School Committee appointed Lynn Dambruch as the new superintendent. As her first act as superintendent, Dambruch named William McCaffrey assistant superintendent during a special meeting Tuesday night.
In a unanimous vote, the Warwick School Committee appointed Lynn Dambruch as the new superintendent. As her first act as superintendent, Dambruch named William McCaffrey assistant superintendent during a special meeting Tuesday night. The committee unanimously approved McCaffrey’s appointment.
Lynn Dambruch, formerly the director of elementary education and assistant superintendent, has worked in the district for 36 years. But in her decades of working in the district, she never imagined she would be superintendent. On Wednesday she said she wished late superintendent Robert Shapiro was still with us to share in her achievement.
Dambruch was a classroom teacher before becoming principal of Robertson Elementary School, a position she held for 18 years.
She believes her background as an educator is “an advantage” in her new role.
“Being in the district for so many years in so many roles, my path has crossed many educators in the district, and I pride myself on visiting schools and meeting students, and seeing the wonderful teaching and learning happening,” said Dambruch in an interview on Wednesday. Dambruch called the man she is succeeding Philip Thornton “a mentor” who helped prepare her for her new role. She said he was “always inclusive.”
Dambruch said she is looking forward to supporting students and teachers over the summer and into the new school year. She has plans to develop learning opportunities “to fill in gaps due to COVID” as well as a series of professional development opportunities for teachers and faculty.
Dambruch said she wants to “reenergize and re-imagine school, and focus on personalized learning for our students.”
“I believe in collaboration, which is one of the reasons why I chose Bill (McCaffrey),” said Dambruch of the assistant superintendent. “We are both very collaborative in our leadership. I believe that people should have a say and all stakeholders should have a voice.”
Dambruch will remain in her role as assistant superintendent until June 1, when her contract officially begins. Terms of the contract including pay are being finalized and will be released with finalized, Dambruch said.
Bill McCaffrey, the former director of secondary education, has worked in Warwick Public Schools for the past 25 years. He worked as a student teacher at Warwick Vets High School, a classroom teacher at Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools, as well as the Warwick Area Career and Tech Center. He spent time as the assistant principal at Gorton Junior High School as well as Warwick Vets, and was the director of the WACTC for 11 years. He was director of secondary education for just over a year.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ms Dambruch,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “I am humbled by her support. I have big shoes to fill; she did a tremendous job as assistant superintendent and set the standards high.”
McCaffrey is eager to look at issues in secondary education, including the high school renovation projects, which will be addressed at the next school committee meeting.
“My goal is to bring energy and Warwick pride back to the schools,” said McCaffrey. “We’re in a unique position because Lynn and I have worked in the district for an awful long time and have a strong connection with students, parents, staff, custodians, and clerks. We’ve developed trust with the people that we serve, and that makes a big difference.”
He and Dambruch are “up for the challenge,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey’s contract is also set to begin June 1, and until that time, he will remain as director of secondary education.
Darlene Netcoh, president of the Warwick Teachers Union, congratulated both McCaffrey and Dambruch on Wednesday.
“I think the school committee made a great decision and I’m looking forward to working with both Superintendent Dambruch and Assistant Superintendent McCaffrey,” she said in an interview.
Netcoh also views their backgrounds as Warwick teachers as an advantage to the future of the district. “If someone is going to lead an organization, it’s important that the person know all facets of the organization,” she said. “The fact that Miss Dambruch and Mr. McCaffrey were classroom teachers in Warwick will only help their leadership. I know how hard both of them have worked, both in and for this district. They are invested in the district’s success.”
Dambruch did not know the status of teacher negotiations or whether she would be included in the talks. School Committee Chair Judith Cobden in a text said she would not discuss the contract.
Both Dambruch and McCaffrey have strong ties to the community and Rhode Island. Dambruch’s father, Edward served as the Rhode Island Director of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her brother, Stephen, is chief of the criminal division in the US District Attorney.
McCaffrey’s father, the late Eugene McCaffrey, served as Mayor of Warwick and his brother Michael is the Majority Leader in the State Senate.