Retired headmaster helped shape Greenwich’s first magnet school ‘from scratch’ at Dundee International School

GREENWICH – Teresa Ricci began her 43-year career at Greenwich State Schools as a professional assistant at Dundee School. She will retire at the end of this school year from the same building, where she is now Principal of Dundee International School.

Ricci spent her early years as a teacher moving around elementary schools across the district as enrollment dwindled, but returning to Dundee – this time as a magnet school – was a ‘full circle moment’ , she said.

A former student of Greenwich High School, her history with the school district extends beyond those four decades. Ricci met her husband during her first year as a teacher and later watched her daughter grow up attending ISD, minutes from the family’s Riverside home.

“Greenwich Public Schools is a special, special place,” Ricci said. “I’m very lucky to have had a career that I was passionate about – and still do.”

The last two years of managing COVID-19 have been stressful as an educator, Ricci said, and she considered retiring to have time for other activities she values, such as family time, travel and volunteering.

“You reach a point where even though you feel young on the inside and you’re still energetic and still passionate about what you do, you look back and think maybe it’s time to make some time to yourself to pursue other hobbies and interests,” she said. .

The magnet school

Midway through his career, Ricci was part of the ISD Planning Committee, a team of staff and community members with a vision for the school’s future. The Dundee School closed after enrollment declined, but the district reopened the building as the first magnet school around the turn of the century.

Magnet schools are public schools that offer a special theme to attract students from across district boundaries to apply. The theme of ISD is the International Baccalaureate Programme.

“Working towards this model of what we wanted it to be and then bringing it to life was almost magical,” Ricci said. “We wanted a school that was really something that offered students a rigorous curriculum, character education, the opportunity to learn a foreign language and to really focus on the whole child. And that’s what what the IB program serves, so it’s been very rewarding.

She joined ISD as deputy director in 2000 and was promoted to director three years later.

“It’s not very often a teacher can say they’re helping start a school from scratch, so it’s definitely a big career highlight for me,” she said.

teach reading

Another key moment is that her training came with her involvement in Project Read, which she describes as “a multi-sensory approach to learning to read”. She learned the method to use in her freshman class and enjoyed it so much that she studied to become a Project Read trainer for the district.

She went to Bloomington, Minnesota for a week and studied a book to equip herself as a trainer. While training teachers in Greenwich, Ricci spent three whole days in the summer or evening sessions scattered over a longer period.

Her passion propelled her through a second master’s degree in reading from the College of New Rochelle. She also holds a master’s degree in special education from Fairfield University and a sixth-grade degree in school administration from Sacred Heart University.

Ricci’s degree as a reading specialist led her to her first administrative duties as a reading specialist at Old Greenwich School. The role came with supervisory responsibilities and propelled her to an assistant principal gig.

“This experience as a reading specialist and my work as a trainer for the district sparked the idea of ​​moving into the field of administration,” she said. Ricci said she had known for a long time that she wanted to be an educator.

“From an early age, I wanted to be a teacher. And I’m very, very happy to be able to live my dream, and so I feel very lucky.

Trio of retreats

North Mianus School Principal Angela Schmidt and Cos Cob School Principal Gene Schmidt, who are married, are also retiring at the end of the school year. The district announced the three retirements at the same time in March. The Schmidts said they didn’t know Ricci was retiring at the same time frame until the district released the information in its bulletin.

“It was surprising and a bit bittersweet too, because it’s like the end of an era,” Gene Schmidt said. “Were very close.” Angela Schmidt nodded in agreement.

In fact, Ricci mentored both Schmidts when they took their first vice-principal roles in the school district.

Ricci is confident that ISD will continue the path she has forged over the past 22 years as Deputy Director and Director.

“When they talk about ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’, I feel like that’s the case here at ISD because we’ve had tremendous support from the community of parents looking to helping and supporting what teachers do on a daily basis,” she said. “So I’m sure that will continue, and I can’t wait to hear what happens after I’m gone.”

She says she is always looking forward to going to work and says she will continue to do so until the end of the school year.

Last week, school superintendent Toni Jones appointed Dana Firmender, vice-principal at Hillcrest Middle School in Trumbull, to replace Ricci as principal of ISD.

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