Mt. Hope's Deb DiBiase named state's top high school principal

Bristol Warren high school principal was nominated by school parents earlier this year

By Ted Hayes
Posted 4/15/21

Dr. Deborah DiBiase, the always smiling, hug- and laughter-prone principal of Mt. Hope High School, has been named Rhode Island's High School Principal of the Year for 2021.

She learned about the …

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Mt. Hope's Deb DiBiase named state's top high school principal

Bristol Warren high school principal was nominated by school parents earlier this year

Posted

Dr. Deborah DiBiase, the always smiling, hug- and laughter-prone principal of Mt. Hope High School, has been named Rhode Island's High School Principal of the Year for 2021.

She learned about the honor in a surprise presentation in the school library just before noon Thursday.

"Its a wonderful award and I'm so thrilled to have it, to achieve it," she told a group of about 20 school staff and administrators who had tricked her into coming up to the library with claims of a problem with student testing that needed to be worked out.

"I'm just thrilled to pieces to be a part of this school," she said. "But it's not my award. It's everybody's who's here. Because our school is nothing without the people that are here and our students and staff, because you guys are the ones that make the school the school."

Dr. DiBiase was awarded by Bob Littlefield, a long-time friend and colleague who serves as the executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Principals. Presenting her with a plaque and a pot of flowers, he said he couldn't be happier to recognize his friend, who was nominated for the honor in February by Mt. Hope parents Nina Murphy and Karen Zagorski.

"Deb has been a friend for many years," he said. "I've visited here once before and just was really impressed with the impact she has had on your school. So we got a letter of nomination ... singing (her) praises and that caught the attention of the principals' association. Our selection committee went to work and did our best to learn as much as we could about your school during our site virtual visit. We heard from parents and teachers and administrators, and what really set us over the top was meeting with your Huskies students. One student summed it up perfectly:"

"'What can I say? She's the head cheerleader for our school, and our school wouldn't be the same without her.'"

Dr. DiBiase has led the high school for five years, and spent two years previous as vice principal. Ms. Murphy tried to nominate her last year but missed the deadline. She didn't want to miss her chance again this year, so she submitted a nomination letter in February along with her friend, Ms. Zagorski. Association representatives followed up with interviews of parents, staff and students before choosing her as the winner.

"While we all know how wonderful she is, and her dedication to our community, we wanted that awareness to be beyond the walls of Mt. Hope High School and let the greater community, not just Bristol Warren but across the state, (to) look to her as an example of what you want in a high school principal," Ms. Murphy said.

"It's amazing, the amount of time she puts in and her presence every place," Ms. Zagorski added. "She is the heart of this building. And in fact when we did our interview the other day, they asked us to sum her up in one word, and several of us said 'Love.' I mean, you don't hear that about a principal very often, and I'm sure her kids said similar things."

A big fan of hugs, Dr. DiBiase got a big one from Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Brice.

"She's the heart of the Husky community," he said. "We absolutely love her for how she leads, how she cares about everyone, and I think that comes through in all of the interactions she has every day with students and staff."

Said Marge McBride, the chairwoman of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee:

"I'd just like to say 'Thank You,' and that comes from the bottom of my heart."

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