Rockett set to launch new era at Rockville High School

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
Rockville High School's new principal, Andrew Rockett, said he can't wait for the buzz of students in the hallways. Photo by Steve Smith.
Rockville High School's new principal, Andrew Rockett, said he can't wait for the buzz of students in the hallways. Photo by Steve Smith.

Rockville High School's new principal, Andrew Rockett, said he is eager to start the school year and to have the buzz of students in the building. Preparing for the school year since he started July 1, Rockett said he is looking forward to meeting the rest of the staff and students, and has so far been impressed with those he has met over the summer.

Rockett, a Somers resident, was most recently principal of Killingly High School. Before that, he was an assistant principal at Manchester High School, and Goodwin Technical High School in New Britain. He was a science teacher at Windsor Locks High School for seven years. He has also practiced law and was a corporate officer for Connecticut National Bank and a deck officer on supertankers.

He said that all administrators vett districts before applying to work there, much in the same way potential administrators are vetted by districts. He said that Rockville High School was “challenged by many factors,” and that while education is very challenging in every district, due to state and federal mandates, RHS may need better cohesion.

“I think the teachers felt that the building had lost its way, and that it was run more by adolescents, rather than adults,” Rockett said, adding that while he doesn't consider himself a disciplinarian, he intends to re-focus the school climate.

“Adults need to be in charge,” he said. “Kids want structure. They want orderliness. They will still be kids, and do adolescent things, but they succeed when there is that structure and they know someone is in charge.”

Rockett said that teachers he has met so far have shown to be very dedicated and loyal to RHS, and he understood that even by his phone calls to find out about the Vernon School District. “They love Rockville High School, they love our demographic, and they love the challenges that we face,” he said. “That is a core group that will lead us into the future. The biggest positive that this school and this community has, is the staff.”

The students that Rockett has already met he describes as “awesome.”

“I think they are as good a student body as any group in the state,” he said. “Reports of poor behavior or inappropriate conduct are adolescents being adolescents. I am looking forward to dealing with them.”

Rockett said he enjoys working as part of a team, and his experience has taught him that you can't always do that. “I know when there are times that you can't operate as part of a team, like when there are emergency decisions that have to be made,” he said. “I'm used to dealing with people, communicating and being part of a team.”

Excited about the year ahead, Rockett said getting the entire staff on the same page will be priority one. “I think this next year will be one of stabilization, and establishing the building blocks for success,” he said, “while we learn to deal with the change we'll be going through. This year is 'let's steady out and establish our procedures for excellence.' Our first series of faculty meetings will be us deciding, as a school, how we want to handle certain things. Once we decide on those, we are all going to enforce them. That will take the kids, and us, several years to change that culture, because you don't change that stuff overnight.”

The biggest challenge for the school, Rockett said, will be dealing with Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED), which he said has many advantages, but takes a lot of time and cost. “The time it takes to evaluate an individual onerous in the extreme, and this is multiplied by 100-something staff members,” he said.

The long-term goals, Rockett said, are for Rockville High School to become the best school it can be.

“There is nothing structurally standing in our way of being a model ex-urban school,” Rockett said. “The facility is certainly adequate. We are adequately funded. We have reasonable class sizes. Most importantly, we have a great group of teachers. We can do it.”

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