NORTH SMITHFIELD – William Connell recently addressed how he has tried to approach serving on the North Smithfield School Committee.
“I believe the North Smithfield Public Schools will be strong, regardless of how the next School Committee is configured,” Connell said.
“Some years ago, I headed a small team from Rhode Island, and we met with a very successful and highly respected education official from another state,” said Connell. “After about forty minutes of detailed information, I asked what was the single most important thing to remember, the big idea that we could bring back to Rhode Island.”
“The response was, ‘Put good people in place, and let them do their thing. And use your authority, but use it sparingly.’ (I’ve used) perhaps a little paraphrasing, but those were the key words.”
“This is the approach I have tried to take as a member of the North Smithfield School Committee,” Connell said. “To try to provide leadership, guidance, and support for both new initiatives and in maintaining programs, even in hard times. To try to look at the needs of all the students, from the highest academic achievers to those students who struggle with education materials. To try to have empathy. To try to remember that education is not a one-size fits all proposition. To be humble and realize success is a team effort, not the result of one individual. And to try to be mindful that I don’t know everything.”
“My main profession is as an attorney, and I work as an education attorney, but have taught special education at middle and high school levels, and have been teaching part-time in law and public policy at area colleges and universities for — well, let’s just say it has been over two decades,” Connell said. “There’s a song lyric that goes, ‘The more I see the less I know.’ I feel that way a lot, but I think that philosophy produces a desire to always improve.”
“I also think that is at the heart of the North Smithfield schools,” said Connell. “We recognize the many achievements of our students, the staff, and the district, but we always want to do better. I think we have put good people in place, and we help them do their thing. That, in my opinion, is a good approach.”