By Ethan Lee
March 2016 (Volume 66, Issue 2
On February 1, 2016, Superintendent Dan Gutekanst announced that assistant principal Aaron Sicotte would be the new principal of Needham High in 2016-17. Mr. Sicotte began his teaching career as an English teacher (and later assistant principal) at Guilderland High School, and became assistant principal at Needham High in 2013. His exposure to education began long before his teaching jobs. “When I was younger, my grandmother used to watch me and my siblings while my parents were at work,” he explains. “Some of my earliest memories are playing school with her using an old chalkboard and bell. I never lost that interest and knew in high school that teaching as what I wanted to do. I’ve loved being an educator and look forward to many more years.”
Mr. Sicotte’s love of teaching has become especially helpful and grown stronger at Needham High, where he has two years of experience. “Needham is a unique place because of the combination of fantastic, dedicated teachers; talented, focused students; and a committed, supportive community. That allows the work being done here to be creative, innovative and of the highest quality. It also allows us to be honest with some of our challenges and work collaboratively to take them on.”
Needham has become a special place in Mr. Sicotte’s heart. His favorite part of working at the high school is “getting to work with the range of people in the building and community. People in all areas are caring, hard working, collaborative, creative and nearly all of it gets done with a smile and a sense of enjoyment. It’s hard not to be caught up in the enthusiasm and passion when talking to students, teachers, staff and parents who are all enthusiastic and passionate.”
As principal, Mr. Sicotte is looking to make build further connections among Needham High students. He explained that “Needham is reflective of much of the rest of the country where the split between those who have and those who do not have is widening. We need to recognize that many students who come into the school have significant financial struggles; many experience racism routinely in the halls of our building; many are insulted for some quality of who they are; many struggle with mental health issues. Needham High School is not a perfect place. What we need to do is continually work toward making sure it is a place where students and adults are challenged and engaged each day, while also being respected and welcomed for who they are and receiving the supports they may need to ensure they can be successful and happy.”
This issue has become one of Mr. Sicotte’s long-standing goals as principal of Needham High in the future: “Both students and staff have a tremendous pride in being at Needham High School. With such a large building, though, it can be hard to have a strong, tight culture tying each of us together. One area I would like to work on is deepening the sense of culture within the building that connects all of us.”
Although there may be several subjects to improve on, Mr. Sicotte sees his position as principal at Needham High as an amazing opportunity to meet more members of his community. “There is a lot I am excited for when I think about next year. One area I am most looking forward to is the chance to connect with even more people to hear their stories and their thoughts on where they’d like to see NHS go in the future.