2019-01-10 / Around Town

Vockerodt Named Thompson Assistant Principal

By James Merolla

Although the contract hasn’t been signed, Supt. Colleen Jermain introduced Nicholas Vockerodt as new Thompson Middle School assistant principal to the School Committee at its Jan. 8 meeting.

Vockerodt, 34, is expected to begin work on Feb. 1.

A native of Washington, D.C. who was raised in Maryland, Vockerodt last taught at the Highlander Institute in Providence. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in History at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a Master’s degree at Brown in Urban Education Policy. He obtained a second Master’s degree at Providence College.

“I was honored to be selected. And I’m really excited,” said Vockerodt, who lives in Cranston. “I was preparing to be a school leader for a long time and I’m happy I was a fit for the School Committee, the principal, and the teachers on the selection committee.”

Vockerodt, who has worked with the Newport School District in the past, said, “I got to know the teachers really well. I got to know the students very well. I’m excited the position opened up.”

Vockerodt replaces Robert Campion, who was assistant principal for the past 10 years. He left in November to become vice principal at Tiverton Middle School.

In other matters:

Robert Young, director of NACTC, informed the committee that his school has received another 10 years of tenure as an accredited tech center. “That’s a very special accreditation,” said School Committee Chair Ray Gomes.

Business manager Carlos Colley gave a positive report on the schools’ budget to identify shortfalls and specify certain deficits that are pending. Colley said he is “tracking” line item money that may cover some major deficits within the budget.

“It’s always a give-and-take. People move around a lot. Line items change,” he said. “We are tracking some areas that we have to be mindful of, like special education… the transportation issues.”

The schools face deficits with the city where specific numbers fluctuate. There is also an ongoing problem with the cost of bus transportation. On Dec. 11, the schools voted 6-1 on Colley’s recommendation to withhold $450,000 in payments to Durham School Services, which provides and operates the buses, due to concerns of being overcharged.

The committee gave certificates of achievement to the Roger High robotics team, which continued a run of five consecutive victories in two separate events at the regional competition in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The team heads to Washington, D.C. later this year to compete in the 2019 International Sea Perch Challenge. Committee member Rebecca Bolan presented head coach Scott Dickison with a five-year Viking ring and a matching metal chalice for his devotion to the students.

Adrienne Haylor gave a video presentation on the dozens of grants gifted from the Newport Public Education Foundation to worthy programs in the various city schools in 2018. Each year, NPEF awards more than $20,000 in grants to teachers for important educational tools and projects that are not funded by the school budget. She also presented a check for $22,320 in enrichments grants to the Newport schools.

Hank Kniskern, representing One Newport, urged committee members to publish uniform or collective editorials or letters to the editor, not individually. “Let’s do it as a whole School Committee. It’s much more supportive for the whole community,” he said.

Though Kniskern did not cite it specifically, a letter from committee member Robert Leary, who was absent from the Jan. 8 meeting, criticizing school deficits and budgeting was recently published in several newspapers.

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