Guilford school has ‘luckiest principal in the state’

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff Writer
09/17/2007

GUILFORD – High School Principal Rick Misenti described himself as “the luckiest principal in the state of Connecticut” at the Guilford Board of Education’s first regular meeting of the new school year.

Misenti has had only a couple of months to come to that conclusion. He started his new job at Guilford High School in early July and is set to start his third full week with students walking the halls.

After three decades as an English teacher and principal in the Pinellas County, Fla., school system, Misenti, 52, said he has now come home to Connecticut. He grew up in Middletown before moving to Florida for college and staying there to start his career.

“When I graduated, I tried to get a teaching job back home and there was nothing, so I stayed in Florida and 31 years later I’ve come back home,” he said.

In a coincidental twist, Misenti’s son, Kyle, had the opposite trajectory: He grew up in Florida and moved to New Haven to attend college. He is now a lawyer and lives in Connecticut.

Apart from the geographic pull, Misenti said that Guilford’s high academic standards and supportive school community attracted him to the position at the high school.

“When you have a tremendous student body, excellent teaching staff and a community that is very involved in what children do at school every day, I think those are ingredients for a wonderful success,” he said.

Superintendent Thomas Forcella said the district went through an extensive search process when looking for a replacement for former principal Bruce Hall.

“We had several input sessions with staff, with parents, with students, and asked those groups what were the characteristics they were looking for in a new principal,” Forcella said. “We had a very strong pool of candidates and we feel very fortunate that Mr. Misenti happened to be looking to move back to Connecticut.”

Forcella said that one of Misenti’s efforts will be creating “professional learning communities” where teachers collaborate with each other on teaching projects and methods.

“He has a very high level of energy, enthusiasm and he’s definitely an action-oriented person,” he said. “He’s very transparent and he listens, but he also understands what the mission of the school is and what our purpose is and that is really trying to motivate the staff to move in that direction of creating a positive learning culture.”

Misenti defined his goals in broad terms: helping all students have academic success.

“Just to be able to be part of a professional learning community that takes students to their highest levels of achievement – that’s about as simple as I can put it,” he said.

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