EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Budget Commission approved on Aug. 23 and the School Committee confirmed on Aug. 27 Frank DeVall’s return to the city as the new principal at Martin Middle School.
Mr. DeVall replaces Glenn Piros, who left the position at the end of the 2011-12 term to take a similar post at a school in Florida.
“When the opportunity to come back first presented itself, I immediately was interested,” said Mr. DeVall, who twice before worked at Martin. He was a teacher at the school from 1987 to 1999. He later served as principal from 2004-2008. In between, he served as an assistant principal at East Providence High School.
“I’ve been away four years. While I enjoyed where I was, I wasn’t doing something for the community where I live,” he continued. “The opportunity to be leader at school that I’ve worked at before, where a number of the staff still remains, was too good to pass up. That fact that I have worked with so much of the staff before, I think allows me to move the school forward at a much faster pace. I have a relationship with these people and they know my leadership style.”
Mr. DeVall left East Providence in 2008 to be an administrator in the Central Falls School System and because he had just been elected to the State Senate for the city’s District 14 seat. Mr. DeVall just completed his second term as a State Senator, but opted not to run for re-election.
In two years in Central Falls, he spent one at the middle school and the other at the high school. Upon leaving C.F., Mr. DeVall took an assistant principal position at Cranston High School West, when he remained before applying for the Martin vacancy.
“I’ve spent 18 of my 26 years in education in East Providence. It’s where I wanted to be,” Mr. DeVall said. “A lot of people came up to me recently saying they would like to see me come back, which I felt really good about. In my time away I realized I wasn’t really part of the community. I was just another worker. Here, I’m part of it.”
Mr. DeVall is a 1982 East Providence High School graduate, a native and resident of the Riverside section of the city. His wife Grace is also an EPHS grad in the Class of ’82. He has two sons, Cameron and Andrew, both attending college.
“I’m looking forward to being back. I’m going to root for the Townies every Friday night at Pierce Stadium. It’s going to be nice to be able to do that again instead of watching the game from the Cranston West side,” Mr. DeVall said, referring to EPHS football games this fall.
In the building at Martin, Mr. DeVall said while the school is performing well, it can be better. He will be tasked with transitioning Martin from the NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) testing method to the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) method, which is being done across the East Providence System to bring it in line with state standards.
“It’s a big transition year,” he explained. “Just for me, personally, coming back it’s big, but also because of the changes we’ll be initiating into the curriculum. They’ve already started on the process here, but it’s my job to get the teachers to roll out the lessons and for them to deliver it properly to the kids.”
Not only are changes to the academic side, but the overall size of Martin is different than what Mr. DeVall experienced in his previous stints at the school. When he left, the student population hovered between 800 to 1,000. Today it’s just over 600.
“It’s still the same type of school. There’s a need to foster a safe and positive environment every day,” Mr. DeVall said. “We also need to create an atmosphere where the students can perform critical learning, so they can excel when they move to the high school.”
Having chosen to leave Martin two times in the past, Mr. DeVall said the third time is likely to be the proverbial “charm.” He has returned home to East Providence and it’s where he wants to end his career.
“I’ve left twice before. This is the third time I’m back here at Martin, and I’m not planning to leave East Providence again,” Mr. DeVall added. “I’m just hoping to do the best job possible for the people and the students of the city. I’m definitely excited to be back. I’m excited to be home.”