This winter Dr. Debra Goulart was taken aback to hear that Paul LaBelle had decided to retire from his position as principal of Kenneth C. Coombs School.
“I thought I would have Paul around as my mentor for at least another year or two,” Dr. Goulart said. She started her position as the school’s assistant principal last year with plans to apply for principal once Mr. LaBelle retired.
“Many teachers approached me and said I hope you’re going to apply,” Dr. Goulart said.
She did and is grateful to have been accepted into the role.
“I just want to do a good job for the kids, the families, the teachers. I didn’t think I would start a principalship this way, but it’s okay.”
During this time of COVID-19 and with the uncertainty surrounding the opening of public schools, “I think it will be an easier transition for everybody to have a familiar face still running the ship,” she said.
Mr. LaBelle said, “I’m very excited for her. She’s ready for this! She knows the culture of the school; she knows the families; she knows what we’re all about.”
Mr. LaBelle is comfortable knowing Dr. Goulart is already familiar with Mashpee Public Schools.
“As far as COVID, I think that’s an even better suit, because Debra has already been in the planning of that in the central office and with myself,” he said. “So there’s a lot of benefits for her to be coming in as she is.”
Dr. Goulart has worked for Mashpee Public Schools for 23 years as a teacher and an administrator.
She previously worked as a principal in Avon, where she had a 3-year contract. But after a year she was offered the director of curriculum position in Mashpee and decided to take that job to be closer to her mother, who was ill at the time.
“I’ve taught 4th grade, 5th grade, and I’ve coached high school cheerleaders in Falmouth, so I’ve worked with all ages, but the littles are extremely cute,” Dr. Goulart said. Her favorite grade to teach is 4th grade because they still have endearing kid qualities yet they’re able to understand and laugh at her “really bad jokes.”
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said, “and my mom had always wanted to be a teacher as well and I didn’t know this until I was an adult.”
Dr. Goulart’s mother worked in the food industry side of education and her father was a plumber. Ms. Goulart was raised in Falmouth and proceeded to raise her three children there with her husband of 36 years.
She received her bachelor’s, master’s degree, and a certificate of advanced graduate study with Bridgewater State University. She then went on to receive another advanced certificate and her doctorate at the American International College, where Dr. Goulart teaches as an adjunct professor.
She loved being the assistant principal, in part because she says the administrative team at the Coombs school is tight-knit and very communicative.
“We work as a team to do what’s best for our kids. That’s why I’m really sad to see Paul go. He’s been the glue that holds the team together,” she said. “Now I have to be that glue.”
“I’m just really excited and I’m going to work really hard to do the very best job I can. It’s some big shoes to fill, but I feel like I’m ready to fill them. We got this!” Ms. Goulart said.
“I wish for her the same experience that I had here,” Mr. Labelle said. “It’s a loving community with great kids and great parents. And I hope her experiences are as rich as mine.”