Asst. Superintendent Erinakes Wraps Up 22-Year Career in Coventry
On July 18, he will begin his new position in EWG.
On July 17, Coventry's Assistant Superintendent of Schools, James H. Erinakes II, will close the book on his 22-year career within the Coventry School District to become Superintendent of the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District. He will be replacing Dr. Thomas J. Geismar, who is retiring after six years in the position.
Erinakes, who holds Masters degrees in teaching Mathematics, Secondary School Administration and Special Education, began as a math teacher at the former Coventry Middle School, then moved to Coventry High School where he taught and later became head of the math department. He then became assistant principal at the middle school and five years ago was named assistant superintendent.
"It's been 22 full years, plus I did my student teaching here," he said. "I've had quite a career in one community."
Erinakes explained that he was made aware of the EWG opening while looking at one of the many national superintendent job postings that are regularly distributed.
"I read them, but I'd never applied for any," he said. "But I read this posting and it just was very interesting to me. What they were looking for were some of the things that I had done here and I thought it would be a good match, so I applied."
Within three weeks of his application, Erinakes had been given an interview, a tour and a second interview and was contacted on Father's Day with the news that he was chosen for the position from a field of twenty applicants
Several qualifications that EWG school officials were looking to find in the new superintendent was someone who would help the district implement the Race to the Top initiatives, including a new evaluation system - points that Erinakes has been very passionate about in Coventry.
One of his many accomplishments is the development of a comprehensive assessment system for student achievement and teacher professional development, which has been highlighted by the Rhode Island Department of Education as a model program.
“Mr. Erinakes’ work on several Race to the Top initiatives over the past two years will be a timely asset to our district,” said EWG School Committee Chair Teri Maia-Cicero in a recent press release from the school district. “His reputation as a highly organized leader, whose priority is improving student academic performance, placed him at the top of a very accomplished pool of finalists.”
"Some of the major things they were looking for are things that I am really passionate about and things that I've been really involved with here," he said.
Erinakes explained that one of the aspects of his new district that may take a bit of getting used to is the fact that it is a regional district, serving both Exeter and West Greenwich. "There will be some procedures that I'll need to become familiar with in that respect," he explained.
Other differences are that the EWG school district is one-third the size of Coventry's with approximately 1,800 students and 120 teachers - roughly the same number of teachers at Coventry High School alone.
Erinakes agreed that the change will be a bittersweet one and as he embraces his new opportunity, he will take take with him the accomplishments achieved by he and his colleagues in Coventry ."I think what I'm most proud of is the relationships that I've developed with a lot of people," he said. "Together, we've pretty much done some incredible things and implemented some incredible programs in this community and you can't do it without the support of everyone."
"I think being in the same community for that long enabled those relationships to happen and that is going to be a big change," he continued. "I know some people in EWG but they don't know me like the people in Coventry know me, so that will be something to get accustomed to. That's the big thing."
According to Erinakes, the first round of interviews for his replacement have been completed with second interviews scheduled for the end of this week. He is currently meeting with EWG administrators to become acclimated and said he will continue to schedule time in Coventry to help his replacement get settled into their new role.