EAST GREENWICH— On Sept. 14, Rocky Hill School officially made Diane Rich their new head of school.
Since opening in 1934 Rocky Hill has had 10 different head of schools, but two weeks ago the school officially made Rich number 11. Notably, Rich is the first female head of school in Rocky Hill history.
“It is a little humbling in a way,” said Rich on being the first female to hold this position. “When they announced it to the student body all the girl students in the middle and upper schools clapped. That made me proud but also made me think wow this is really an honor to be a leader and be a model for the girls in this school. So it felt great.”
Rich, who was the assistant head of school before this promotion, was able to address the student body during an introduction ceremony. In attendance was the entire student body, and also Secretary of State, Nellie Gorbea.
“The story begins ‘If I ran the zoo said young Gerald Mcgrew, I’d make a few changes, that’s just what I’d do,’” said Rich, quoting the Dr. Seuss book “If I Ran the Zoo,” to her students. “I think the heart of what he’s saying has to do with the opportunity to imagine, to explore and to discover. When Gerald says ‘I’ll catch’em in caves and I’ll catch’em in brooks, I’ll catch’em in crannies, I’ll catch them in nooks that you don’t read about in geography books,’ Seuss celebrates Gerald’s curiosity and boldness for new adventures and traversing places no one has heard of before. This is a message for the youngest of us as well as the oldest of us who are here today. We need to embrace our curiosity, celebrating the possibility of the unknown, and feeling a sense of empowerment as we dare to explore. That’s my hope and dream for the future we’re going to share.”
Before becoming the head of school, Rich spent the last 30 years working in public education. For the last six years, working at Rocky Hill, she has worked as the dean of faculty, and as the assistant head of school. Before coming to work at Rocky Hill, Rich helped open Bedford High School, in Bedford, New Hampshire.
“I was at Boston College, as an English major, and people would always say to me ‘oh my god, what are you going to do with an English major? All you can do is teach,’” said Rich on why she went into education. “I used to take offense to that. I used to tell people any job that I get I am going to know how to communicate and read critically. So I never really thought much about teaching. I was accepted into a Ph. D program at the University of Chicago, and I differed because I wasn’t sure I wanted to go for a Ph. D. So I was working at Bloomingdales in the espresso bar, much to my parent’s delight, when they asked me to train people for cash registers. I had so much fun teaching them that it changed my path, I applied for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was accepted, and I never looked back.”
After addressing the student body Rich was given a gift from the lower, middle and upper schools that symbolize the school’s eight student competencies. These competencies are teaching the students to become navigators, critical thinkers, citizens, and communicators, innovative, self-aware, ethical and globally minded. Rich was given a jar of glitter by the lower school to symbolize self-awareness, the middle school gave her reusable straws for global mindedness, and the upper school gave her a map representing being a navigator.
However Rich also had a gift for the students. Rich took the time to bake 300 cookies for each of the students in attendance.
“I love to bake,” said Rich on why she made the entire student body cookies. “My leadership style is to be warm, approachable, and to build a sense of community, so that people really do believe in what I say and come to my office. And I thought, well taking the time and energy to really offer the gift of food, and since I am sitting in my church parking lot I’ll say the breaking of bread is a great way to build community. So sugar cookies seemed like a great way to get to the kids heart.”
Rocky Hill School is an independent private school located at 530 Ives Road, East Greenwich, and has classes for students from preschool through high school.