Search for leadership underway at Foster-Glocester schools as two top educators move on


GLOCESTER – A search is underway for new leadership for the Foster-Glocester School District following the recent announcements that both Supt. Michael Barnes and Asst. Supt. Lisa Odom-Villella are moving on from their respective roles.

Barnes, who has worked for the district for 34 years and led it for the past 14, will serve as part-time superintendent for the Foster School District following his resignation, effective June 30.

Odom-Villella, meanwhile, has been named Deputy Commissioner of Instructional Programs for the Rhode Island Department of Education. Foster-Glocester’s second in command, who also served as the district’s Title IV coordinator, was named to the position by Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green. The role oversees statewide teaching and learning; innovation; and finance and operations.

A Woonsocket native, Odom-Villella is also a member of Leadership Rhode Island’s 2022 Sigma II Class, a program connecting leaders from various sectors on statewide issues.

District Director of Technology Eric Butash reacted to the news on social media April 1, congratulating Odom-Villella on the appointment.

“I couldn’t be happier for my current and soon-to-be former Ponaganset colleague,” Butash noted. “It’s a huge loss for us, but an amazing addition for the Rhode Island Department of Education team.”

The district, which oversees Ponaganset High School and Middle School, serves approximately 1,390 students in grades 6-12 from Foster and Glocester.

Barnes, a Cumberland native, started as a teacher at Ponaganset High and Middle Schools in 1988. He spent a few years as a fellow at the Rhode Island Department of Education before he was named assistant superintendent in 2005, and then superintendent in 2008.

A job posting to fill the role published on School Spring had a deadline of Monday, April 4, and the regional School Committee has named members to a Superintendent Search Subcommittee to evaluate candidates. That board met in executive session on Monday, April 11, and again on Tuesday, April 12.

Their progress in the hunt for new district leadership will likely be discussed with members of the larger regional board at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 10. The board generally meets in the Ponaganset High School Library at 137 Anan Wade Road on the first Tuesday of every month starting at 7 p.m.

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