Assistant Superintendent of Schools Patty de Garavilla
Patty de Garavilla, 28 year veteran in education, brings enthusiasm to her job as Assistant Superintendent.
Patty de Garavilla has been Assistant Superintendent of Schools for less than 6 months and has already made an impact.
A resident of Wakefield and a 10-year veteran of the Reading School System, de Garavilla served as principal of the Joshua Eaton School for six years after serving four as the language arts coordinator.
Three projects have taken most of her time, and she has been enthusiastic about each one of them. "It is enough to keep me busy for a year or two," she explained.
Soon after she started her first day, the Academy at Harvard Square, which provides exchange programs for Korean students, approached the Reading public school district for a partnership.
"They chose Reading because it had a good reputation with emphasis on 21st century skills and global focus," she explained.
de Garavilla began working with the Academy director on Sept. 26. On Jan. 4, Korean students from grades 4-8 began attending classes at Reading's elementary and middle schools. Some of the students will stay for three weeks, while others will be here until Feb. 19.
"This is the first time we have had an exchange program in the elementary and middle schools."
Calling the program a success, de Garavilla said that the exchange students will showcase their Korean culture, arts, clothing, sports and food on Tuesday, January 25 from 5-7 p.m. at the Coolidge Middle School in an event which will be open to the public.
In addition, next month, 30 middle and high school students will arrive from China to stay in Reading for a week. She explained that this is part of a month long tour of American cities.
"I am excited to see Reading, which is not a diverse community, have the opportunity to experience people from other cultures. So far so good."
In addition to coordinating exchange visits, de Garavilla said the district's Bullying Prevention Plan has become a big part of her job. Under the new state law, Reading needs to provide training to school personnel and coaches in an effort to prevent, discover and divert bullying activities. A committee made up of teachers, administrators and guidance counselors have already drawn up a plan and submitted it to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
"Right now, we are waiting to hear back," she said. "The training would include the definition of bullying, intervention and support."
Bullying, formerly a physical, in-person activity, has expanded into the online world where students can easily post derogatory remarks on Faebook and other social networking sites. Combating cyberbullying is a challenge because it is harder to see. de Garavilla said.
“We need to help parents understand and monitor their children."
Also, de Garavilla said that many students fall into the bystander category. They need to recognize that they play a role.
"In the past, Reading has had positive programs, and we are going to build on that," de Garavilla said. She said she also hopes to make it a community-wide program.
Last, but not least, de Garavilla is working hard on developing new "common core" standards. She explained that 48 states have agreed to common expectations and levels of achievement for students across the country.
Among other changes, de Garavilla said the new common standards will require science and social studies teachers to teach reading and writing skills alongside their normal course materials.
"The State is currently working with teacher leaders," she said.
de Garavilla earned her Bachelor's from Bridgewater State and her Master's from Salem State College.
When asked why she wanted to pursue school administration, she said "I always had strong encouragement from colleagues."
Her 28-year career path took her from teacher, to reading specialist, to curriculum specialist to principal to assistant superintendent.
"Each time, there has been a wider circle for impact. It keeps me learning new things," she said.