Gil Traverso named new Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School principal

Gil Traverso, pictured here after a visit to the school in June, has accepted the position of principal of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
File photo by Janet Hefler

Gil Traverso, pictured here after a visit to the school in June, has accepted the position of principal of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.

Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools James Weiss announced Tuesday that Gilbert Traverso has accepted the principal’s job at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). Mr. Traverso is currently principal of the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield.

“Mr. Traverso is a seasoned principal with a proven track record of leadership,” Mr. Weiss said in an email to The Times late Tuesday afternoon. “I believe his personality and experience are an excellent match for our high school.”

Mr. Weiss said that although the details of Mr. Traverso’s contract remain to be finalized, he expects the new principal will be on the Island before the start of the 2014-15 school year in September.

“He comes here after four years as Principal of the Putnam Academy in Springfield, and I was impressed with the positive comments I received as I talked with his direct supervisor and the superintendent who hired him,” Mr. Weiss said.

Mr. Weiss said that he planned to leave for a vacation in Maine. He said once he returns he will finalize a contract and exact start date.

“My family and I were elated at the news of being selected as the new principal of such a high performing high school,” Mr. Traverso said in an email to The Times Wednesday. “Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has an impressive staff and great student performance results. I look forward to the opportunity to enhance what is already working well and welcome any challenges for improvement.

“I am grateful that the school committee and superintendent Weiss have selected me to be the next leader for the high school.

“Of course, the change will be bittersweet due to the fact that I am leaving behind an incredible school district and city. I look forward to settling in and actually finding a place to live on Martha’s Vineyard.”

Quick search

The selection of Mr. Traverso concludes a process that began in May, following the resignation of former principal Stephen Nixon, principal since 2008, on April 28. Mr. Weiss appointed Assistant Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea as acting principal to fill in until a new principal was hired.

He also acted quickly to put together a nine-member search committee that included himself, several teachers, a parent, a student, an administrator from the high school, an elementary school principal, and a representative from the NAACP by mid May. The committee selected 10 candidates for interviews, and six came to Martha’s Vineyard for interviews during the first week of June.

Three semi-finalists, including Mr. Traverso and David Maxwell, assistant principal of Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, were invited to come back for daylong visits to MVRHS, to meet with administrative staff, faculty, high school committee members, students, and parents. One candidate dropped out.

“It’s a great school,” Mr. Traverso told The Times, after talking with students and faculty the morning of his visit on June 18. “The students are wonderful; I love their questions. The staff has been asking very pertinent questions, which I would ask if I was a staff member. And they should, because the staff is keeping this place at the level it is, and they deserve the credit.”

Everyone that met with the two candidates received a feedback form asking for their opinions of both candidates, which Mr. Weiss reviewed in making his selection.

Turnaround

Mr. Traverso, 55, was appointed principal at Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in 2010, according to a copy of his resumé provided to The Times.

The vocational technical high school provides academic and vocational instruction to approximately 1,632 students in grades nine through twelve throughout the Springfield area. The school offers 19 trades.

Mr. Traverso has been credited with transforming the school from one with serious discipline problems and struggling academic performance to a school with dramatically improved behavior and rising test scores and graduation rates.

Previously, Mr. Traverso worked for 14 years as as a technical high school administrator in Connecticut Technical High Schools, supervising and leading staff in the areas of teaching and learning. Mr. Traverso also has served since 2007 as a diversity and inclusion trainer for the Anti-Defamation League.