Matters of Principal
In matters of style,
swim with the current.
In matters of principle,
stand like a rock.
If you were to be sent to the Principal’s office at Cumberland High School, that is the message that would greet you. The quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson is the mantra on a fading poster tacked to a corkboard in an office with a conference table but no desk. RIC graduate Alan Tenreiro ’98, M.Ed. ’05 doesn’t need one: he’s the energetic, hands-on kind of leader you’re likely to find roaming the halls of his school, connecting directly with students and teachers. Tenreiro stands out in the crowd of some 100,000 school principals in this country, with the dramatic changes he’s made at CHS getting noticed far beyond the Ocean State. In October, the National Association of Secondary School Principals named the Pawtucket native the 2016 National Principal of the Year.
Things were going in the wrong direction at CHS when Tenreiro took the helm in 2012, with test scores sliding downward and disciplinary problems and absenteeism on the rise. Under his leadership, standardized test scores have markedly improved, the number of Advanced Placement courses has doubled, the graduation rate has increased from 80% to nearly 88% and the suspension rate is down, as is the chronic absenteeism. Cumberland High has doubled its Advanced Placement offerings and expanded STEM offerings to include robotics, pre-engineering and biotechnology. The principal says “there was a big sense of urgency to make this a flagship high school in the state again.” He credits an embrace of Common Core standards and a more personalized approach with an emphasis on high expectations, school pride, professional development, and blended learning. The former Social Studies teacher and soccer coach believes the key to success in education is “keeping what’s best for students” front and center.
It may come as no surprise that Alan Tenreiro comes from a family of educators: his grandfather was an assistant principal, his mother was a teacher, his sister is a teacher, and his wife—also a RIC graduate—was recently named Rhode Island School Counselor of the year. It was with great pride that Cumberland High School recently surprised its popular principal by announcing his prestigious award in a joyous auditorium assembly. You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwLSYJrQgxc