New Stall Brook Principal Aims to Empower Students
Oct 30, 2017 07:00AM ● Published by Pamela Johnson
Stall Brook Principal Brenda Maurao
A quick glance at the interior of Stall Brook Elementary School reveals that Superman is alive and well and that his “S” logo is playing a role in empowering students in grades K through 3. It’s a reminder that they have a special ability, or a super power.
The concept, which was introduced by new principal Brenda Maurao, is part of a leadership pledge, and it also was implemented to empower everyone at the school to feel special. “We have rules, but I prefer to have students and staff view our rules as expectations,’’ said Maurao, who replaced Carolyn Rafferty as principal in September. “Our mascot is a stallion, but we’re now ‘Super Stallions.’ To be super, behavior traits have to become the norm and our behavior promises are be safe, be kind, be responsible, be brave and be honest.’’
The 43-year-old Maurao, who came to Stall Brook after serving as assistant principal at the Miller School in Holliston for the last five years, is energetic and passionate about education, and her approach to her new position is fundamentally sound.
“When Mrs. Rafferty left Stall Brook to be the assistant superintendent, I arrived at a school that functioned really well,’’ Maurao emphasized. “My prime goal for my first year is to listen to staff, students and the families and build relationships. Strong relationships translate to a high-functioning environment where people like to come to this school. My second objective is to grow the culture where teachers feel supported, families feel welcomed and children feel as if they can achieve anything.’’
The super-power concept definitely plays into child achievement. As Maurao says,“We all have something we’re good at. If someone is a good writer, then that’s where they can help others. If a child is good at being a friend to someone, then that’s their super power.’’
Maurao has transitioned nicely into her new position. Married and the mother of a 12-year-old daughter (Lucy) and a nine-year-old son (Max), she’s a graduate of Cromwell High in Cromwell, CT. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and psychology from Western Connecticut State and a master’s in education from the University of Bridgeport. She also received her certification in elementary administration from Lesley College in Cambridge.
After teaching Grade 2 for a year in Middletown, CT, the Waltham native returned to the Bay State and taught at the elementary level in Arlington and Belmont. When Maurao and her husband (Michael) moved to Holliston, she joined the faculty at the Miller School (Grades 3-5) and taught English for six years before assuming the role as assistant principal.
“The principal at Miller School is David Keim, and he inspired me to pursue administrative roles,’’ Maurao said. “He gave me lots of responsibilities that included leading a new-teacher induction program. I also was involved in daily operations, communication with parents and the community, and the development of a positive-behavior program. Mr. Keim is a great mentor.’’
Maurao’s welcoming smile is a testament to how much she values her role as the school’s leader. She credits her staff and families for her comfort level. “I’m in a supportive community and I’m impressed by the staff and the families’ involvement and commitment to children.’’
Maurao knows there are always challenges for administrators, especially in education, and she points to technology as one of them. “I look at technology as a tool and a way to improve accessibility to learning,’’ she noted. “We have an opportunity to improve our accessibility to technology and to incorporate it into our daily routine.’’
Maurao, who has 40 teachers on her staff for 323 students, is acutely aware of the keys for students to learn and she’s quick to point to some of them. “A safe and secure culture is very important,’’ she said. “Highly skilled professionals are needed along with research-based practices that use successful resources and methods. Also, a reflective process is vital in monitoring progress and making adjustments.’’
Maurao’s classroom experience has provided her with a sharp sense of the attributes required to be a quality teacher. She lists four traits she views as vital.
“A good teacher has to love children, be able to reflect on what’s working and what’s not, have experience and training in the field, and passion for the job is a must,’’ she said. “To be an effective principal, I need to be organized, I need to model good teaching skills into my leadership and I must look at the big picture—the entire system or district.’’
Maurao lauded the assistance she received from Rafferty when she was hired and also the leadership of School Superintendent Peter Marano. “Mrs. Rafferty has been fully accessible and offers advice and counsel anytime I request it,’’ Maurao said. “She’s committed to keeping Stall Brook a great place. Mr. Marano is an innovator who has high expectations for all of us. He also wants the best for the children of this town.’’
Calling her mother (Priscilla DiLuzio) her role model, Maurao is pleased that her mom lives in Bellingham and works at the high school as a tax-workoff volunteer.
Maurao’s message to parents is that she’s passionate about fostering an inclusive learning community. “I acknowledge the role that each one of us plays in students’ success, in academics and beyond,’’ she noted.
And Maurao isn’t afraid of her partnership with Superman. She’s got a stuffed doll of the super hero in her office, a Superman bracelet is visible on her wrist and the Superman logo shows vividly on cards at the school. The link is telling because it stresses that students are empowered. The Superman theme also reveals that Brenda Maurao is a creative administrator.