Matthew D’Andrea hated third grade. But in fourth grade he was assigned an inspiring teacher, Mr. Mansfield, who made learning fun and positive. “For the first time, I looked forward to coming to school,” Mr. D’Andrea said in a recent interview.
To help other kids learn to love school Mr. D’Andrea decided to become an educator. For the first 14 years of his career he taught fifth through eighth graders. After that he became an administrator, serving as an assistant principal and then a principal, most recently at the Old Hammondtown School, a school serving fourth to sixth graders in Mattapoisset.
His current post, as of two weeks ago, is assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Martha’s Vineyard public schools. He was hired for a 22-month appointment in late August after a summer-long search to replace Laurie Halt, the former assistant superintendent who resigned in July.
Mr. D’Andrea said the Island schools have a good reputation off-Island, and the opportunity to work here was too good to pass up.
“It’s a great district with a very supportive community,” he said.
Mr. D’Andrea holds a certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in educational leadership, as well as a doctorate in law and policy.
While barely settled into his new office, Mr. D’Andrea has attended several school committee meetings already, where he found evidence of strong participation from community members. “There is a lot of involvement from the community, and debate about the ways things should be done, and that’s how it should be,” he said. He added that the school district here is similar to his previous one, with education focused on nurturing the whole child, and enrichment opportunities are made available to students.
As assistant superintendent, Mr. D’Andrea coordinates curriculum Island-wide, performs grant writing for the district, oversees the ELL program and assists in implementation of the educator evaluation system.
A primary focus will be aligning the curriculum to the national Common Core educational standards, a process begun by his predecessor.
“Certainly there will be some curriculum changes and adjustments . . . but right now I don’t see the need for any wholesale changes,” he said.
Mr. D’Andrea moved to Oak Bluffs a few weeks ago. He said people have been eager to welcome him to the neighborhood. His kids, Matthew, a fifth grader, and Henry, a fourth grader, still live with Mom on the mainland, but the whole family plans to reunite on the Island soon.
“I am very excited to be here, and I hope to build on the programs we already have,” he said.