Superintendent Hyde Brings Changes to Mashpee Schools

crayonsMASHPEE – The Town of Mashpee this fall will become the only town in the commonwealth to offer free full-day preschool through the public schools.

That is just one of the new initiatives the town is offering this year, the second for Mashpee Superintendent of Schools Brian Hyde.

For the preschool program, called the Gateway to Excellence, the town is offering three full-day classrooms and three half-day classrooms.

The program, a model pilot program in the state, is open to all four-year-olds in Mashpee.

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The town is also providing free transportation for the program for those who need it.

Hyde has introduced a number of other initiatives.

For the upper grades, Mashpee has hired a new high school and middle school principal, Sean Gilrein.

Gilrein has worked as an assistant principal, principal and superintendent, most recently in the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District. After serving as superintendent since 2001, Gilrein announced his retirement last January, effective this month. But he is coming out of retirement to join Mashpee Schools.

“He’s a real star in education,” Hyde said.

Hyde said Gilrein missed the direct contact with students that he had when he worked as principal and assistant principal, which is why he agreed to come to Mashpee.

“He said the best 10 years of his life were as a leader at a high school,” Hyde said. “He missed being around kids.”

This is the third iteration for Mashpee schools in terms of administration. Mashpee High School started out with one principal serving grades 7 to 12. Then in 2008, the high school was broken up into two schools in the same building, each with its own principal. In 2013, the district returned to one leader for both schools.

Hyde called the change student-driven. “We’re looking for one leader to lead our curriculum, one leader to maintain sustained leadership in the same building,” he said, mentioning also discipline,  assessment and culture.

Hyde said the best schools in the commonwealth are structured as grades 7 to 12, including many private schools. It is a trend that other public high schools are following, including nearby Sandwich.

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and Barnstable High School both serve grades 8 to 12.

Hyde said he also wants to keep the middle school identity, so that is why the name Mashpee Middle School will remain.

Mashpee High School will have two headmasters: Kevin Turner, former principal of Harwich High School, for grades 10 to 12; Mark Balestracci, for grades 7 to 9. The role is similar to assistant principal and will be responsible for discipline of students and teacher evaluation for those grades.

Mashpee’s enrollment from kindergarten to 12th grade has been hovering just under 1,700–around 1,680 to 1,690–where it has been for the last year and a half, Hyde said.

But the district is receiving more School Choice students then it ever has, he said. Adding those students puts the district total over 1,700, he said.

New administrators added in the school district also include department heads for grades 7 to 12. Having department heads is a first in Mashpee, Hyde said.

Hyde has also added a college and career readiness director position for k to 12.

He speaks with pride about the expansion of the Technology Center of Excellence, which received a visit from the Governor and Secretary of Education last week.

The district also implemented a four-language foreign language program in its elementary schools  and has an iPad initiative for sixth graders that it is hoping to expand it to fifth and seventh graders.

“For the new school year, we’ve creating a high performing team that is leading a high performing district. That’s our goal,” Hyde said.