Wing Principal Picked To Lead Special Ed. Services
By: Alex Scofield
After 16 years as the principal of the Henry T. Wing School, Matthew J. Bridges will be moving into a new office at Sandwich High School as the district’s director of pupil personnel services.
Superintendent Mary Ellen Johnson announced this week that Mr. Bridges had been selected for the position.
He will replace Interim Special Education Director Merle Montani, whose contract with the district expires at the end of this month.
Dr. Johnson said that Mr. Bridges’s experience in the district and strong positive relationships with teachers and community members qualified him for the position.
“What we looked at were his strong credentials, communication skills, ability to work well with teachers, and experience overseeing programs,” she said. “He values every child in the district, and he is always looking to what the district can do to help each and every child excel.”
School committee Chairman Sharron L. Marshall said she believes Mr. Bridges is the right man for the job.
“It’s great for him and it’s great for the district,” she said. “Of course, I will miss him as the principal of the Wing School, as he’s done such a great job there.”
As the director of pupil personnel services, Mr. Bridges will be responsible for overseeing the district’s special education department and the 600 students whom it services.
Mr. Bridges said his experiences working in the district have prepared him well for the job.
He was first hired in the district as a physical education teacher at Sandwich High School. He moved up to assistant principal at the high school for a year and then to the Wing School as the assistant principal for three years.
He has been the principal of the Wing School since 1994.
Mr. Bridges said that in each of his posts in the school district, he has had to work closely with special education students and their parents.
“In my position I have helped develop and oversee many districtwide special education programs,” Mr. Bridges said.
The Spinnaker Program, a districtwide program devoted to serving students on the autism spectrum, is housed at the Wing School, as was its predecessor, a program from the May Institute, and the district’s social skills program.
Dr. Johnson also credited Mr. Bridges for helping to lay the groundwork for Project Excel, a program for high school students with social development deficits.
“He has extensive experience as an administrator working with the district’s special education programs,” Dr. Johnson said.
Mr. Bridges said he has all the needed certifications to serve as the district’s director of pupil personnel services. He received his master’s in educational administration from Bridgewater State College.
Mr. Bridges is also well established in the community. In addition to working in the school district for over two decades, he attended the Wing School starting in 3rd grade and graduated from Sandwich High School in 1979.
He said his ties to the community would play a role in guiding his actions as the director of pupil personnel services.
“This community is everything to me,” he said. “I care passionately about this town.”
Mr. Bridges recorded a message to Wing School parents Monday afternoon that was sent out over the school’s direct-dial system. In that message, he said the move from the Wing School to the district offices would be “bittersweet.”
“It’s been a great 16 years,” he said. “I’ve loved coming to work every day.”
The search for an administrator to oversee the district’s special education department began in January, when the district launched a nationwide search.
Nine candidates were called in for interviews, with a search committee comprising school committee members, community members, teachers, and administrators; however, none of those candidates were offered a job.
After receiving permission from the school committee, Dr. Johnson advertised the position again, this time under the title of director of pupil personnel services.
Mr. Bridges was one of two candidates to be asked to take part in the final round of interviews for the job.
Dr. Johnson declined to share the name of the other candidate or which district he or she came from.
A search is currently underway for a new principal of the Henry T. Wing School, but has not been completed yet, Dr. Johnson said.
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