Outstanding first principal caught by surprise

Posted 3/9/22


When Warwick Neck Principal Frank Galligan was asked to go to a meeting at the Warwick Administration Building on Monday morning he didn’t think anything of it.

He would …

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Outstanding first principal caught by surprise



When Warwick Neck Principal Frank Galligan was asked to go to a meeting at the Warwick Administration Building on Monday morning he didn’t think anything of it.

He would later learn it was a ruse, so the District Administration could surprise him with the announcement he is the Outstanding First Year Principal of Year.

“I was surprised, I was really honored and really touched but I was also shaken at the same time because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Galligan. Galligan had gotten a call from school secretary Kathleen Leamy telling him there was an emergency at the school and he needed to get there right away. Meanwhile, the entire school wsa waiting for him in the school’s all purpose plus a lineup of schooll and city officials. Elementary School Director Patricia Cousineau had primed the students to sit “criss-cross applesause” and be as quiet as mice. But then Galligan didn’t show up at the anticipated time and after a couple of practice “surprise” yells, she had them limber up with arm and neck stretches.

When Galligan arrived at the school he noticed a lot of cars in the parking lot but still didn’t think much of it.
Galligan was ushered into the all purpose room and that’s when he spotted TV cameras, the whole school assembled and his family. There was the tumulous yell, “suprise, followed by applause. It was emotional.

“I was very overwhelmed and very touched,” said Galligan.
After graduating from Assumption University, Galligan, a Cranston native and Bishop Hendricken High School graduate, found himself back in Cranston where he worked at Immaculate Conception as a middle school teacher before going to St. Teressa School.
From there Galligan attended Harvard, for graduate school in order to become a principal. After graduating from Harvard he became principal at a private school in Boston.

In the fall of 2020 Galligan found himself back in Rhode Island, and was encouraged to apply to work in Warwick. He did and was named interim principal at Norwood Elementary School in January of 2021. Sabrina Antonelli, the principal there, was on long term medical leave. As Galligan described it, he was “keeping the seat warm.”

After Cousineau was named as Director of Elementary Education, replacing Lynn Dambruch who was picked as superintendent there was an opening at Warwick Neck Elementary School.
He was named the Warwick Neck principal on July 1 2021.
Galligan was nominated for the award by Gary McCoombs, principal at Hox s ie Elementary School.

Galligan said that McCoombs has always been one of his biggest supporters.

He said that there were times when he needed a go to person and McCoombs was there to answer the call.

“Trust your gut, you need to trust yourself more,” Galligan recalls McCoombs telling him.

McCombs said that he got an email asking if he wanted to nominate anyone for either principal of the year or for new principal of the year.

He knew who he wanted to nominate. The person who he has gotten to know as a mentor and colleague.

“I’m very impressed with Frank,” said McCombs, who has been principal at Hoxsie since 2011.

McCombs said that among other things he’s “done an excellent job building a sense of community,” noting that he goes to little league games on the weekends, and tries to make school fun for the students as examples.

“He’s just what Warwick needs… Warwick is very lucky to have him,” said McCombs.

As part of the process a virtual site visit of the school by the committee was done. The committee includes past recipient winners along with the Rhode Island Association of School Principals Executive Director.

It included an interview with Galligan, a discussion with staff and leaders from Warwick Neck, the District Administration, parents from Warwick Neck and students.

A month to the day after the site visit happened Galligan found out he was a nominee . He said in an interview Monday that he thought he didn’t win.

“There’s a lot of really good principals out there,” said Galligan.
Robert Littlefield representing the Rhode Island Association of School Principals at the award presentation told the students “We found the best beginning principal in Rhode Island.”

“You told us one after another that Mr. Galligan makes learning fun, that he will do anything he can to make school fun,” said Littlefiled. Also addressing the assembly were Farther Robert Marciano, president of Hendricken who offered a prayer, Judith Cobden, chair of the School Committee, Mayor Frank Picozzi and Superintendent Lynn Dambruch.

Galligan said that at Norwood and now Warwick Neck he has been surrounded with great people, and contributed his accomplishment to them.

“I think it would be really missguided to think that I received this award on my own merit. I think it has a lot to do with all of the people who have been supporting the kids and the families for the last three years,” said Galligan. “I feel really fortunate to get this award but it’s really a testament to the kind of community Warwick is.”

Galligan, principal


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