New face in the principal's office
With the recent resignation of Co-Principal Karen Kurzman, the Block Island School administration has filled the post with the interim appointment of Charles (Chuck) Mello, who retired as a principal of the Hugh Cole Elementary School in the Bristol/Warren District in July of this year. Hugh Cole is a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school.
With the BIS administration still in the process of searching for a permanent co-principal, Mello’s assignment here is, as he describes it, “day-to-day or week-to-week.” However, found on his third day in the school, he admits to already growing fond of the school and the island, appreciating it aesthetically and in terms of its sense of community. He has applied for the permanent position.
He remarks on “the unique beauty of the island and the community spirit of the school.” He says, “I’m sensing in a very few days a very strong, supportive and welcoming school community.”
All the stages of his life in one town
Mello, who was born and grew up in Bristol, says, “I spent my life as student, parent, teacher and finally administrator in the same town.” He speaks of how the shifting perspectives of each of his roles within his community enlarged his understanding of those he ultimately came to serve as a principal.
The scale of the change for Mello is dramatic: from a student body of 660 to one of 114, and from a school where there are five of each grade level classes to one where there is a single class for each grade.
A graduate of Rhode Island College, Mello earned a bachelor’s in elementary education, after which he taught in a pre-kindergarten to seventh grade school for many years. In the mid-nineties, Mello became a coordinator of a federal grant program for English-as-a-second-language learners. During that time, he also worked on his master’s in administration, which he also earned at RIC.
After graduation, Mello served as interim principal in Bristol/Warren, then as a principal in the Portsmouth school district, finally returning to Bristol/Warren in 2000, to a principal’s post, where he remained until retirement.
Mello has two daughters and two grandchildren. He smiles as he thinks about being a grandfather. He says, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to sit back and watch grandchildren go through the same experiences as we and our children have gone through.”
One of the most remarkable things he’s found here is “how welcoming the staff has been for someone who’s come in on a temporary basis.” Clearly hoping to change his status, Mello seems to be philosophic about the process — having settled in for whatever the duration of his tenure is at the island school and resolved to enjoy the experience for however long it continues.