MAKING GAUDET GREAT
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AUGUST 10, 2021) – William J. Niemeyer knows the impact education can have on someone’s life.
Thinking back to his own experiences, the new principal at Gaudet Middle School said his sophomore high school English teacher -- Ken Keener -- truly opened his eyes to how to read and think critically.
If it was up to Niemeyer, everyone at the Aquidneck Avenue middle school will have the same impact on the young lives they’re responsible for shaping and molding.
“He wasn’t like other teachers,” said Niemeyer, whose last name is pronounced Knee-My-Err. “Up to that point, I only read what I had to read for school, but Mr. Keener showed me how much fun reading can truly be and that just opened so many doors for me. He got me to think in a way I never had before.”
Married to his wife Elizabeth, the couple has two children – J.C. and Andrew. Before taking over at Gaudet, Niemeyer was the principal at Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School in Providence. Prior to that, he was assistant principal at Central High School in Providence.
Niemeyer got his start in education as a teacher for “at risk” youths in Hawaii. If you look at his resume, much of his work has focused on helping those who need the most help.
At Gaudet, Niemeyer said he looks forward to working closely with the new principal of the grade four and five Gaudet Learning Academy – Rebecca Silveira. He also has an ongoing dialogue with Middletown High Principal Dr. Jeff Heath about ways to get the two schools synched together, particularly ensuring there’s continuity in the classroom from grade to grade.
“Middletown is such a strong community with a great, great group of educators,” Niemeyer said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to and worked with so far has been absolutely outstanding and I see my job here as helping us get to the next level. All the pieces are here, we just have to put them all together.”
Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger agreed, saying she had no doubt Niemeyer would help further unite the middle school and help it truly become “Gaudet Great.”
“Sitting and talking with Bill, his energy and enthusiasm for education is obvious,” Kraeger said. “Everything is about the success of the students and forming meaningful relationships. He’s going to be great for Gaudet and I know everyone is really excited about what he’s bringing to Gaudet — and Middletown overall — as we work to bring our district to the next level.”
Niemeyer said based on the numbers, Middletown students perform well enough when they’re in elementary school, but things seem to dip once many arrive at Gaudet. Aware of the issues, he said everyone he’s spoken to was fully committed to reversing that trend.
“The resources are there, the pieces are there, we just have to turn that corner,” Niemeyer said. “There’s no reason Gaudet should only be a three-star school.”
Part of that change is to help instill more pride and spirit in the school itself. In coming weeks, Niemeyer said he plans on speaking and working with staff and students on events that help pull everyone closer together at a time when the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic hangs over everything.
“It’s a tough time for kids and for adults, but we can do better,” Niemeyer said. “I’m a people person and I think you have to be a people person to be teaching. It’s important that we’re all working together and making sure the kids are getting what they need. We can all go to school now even with what’s going on and be safe about it and have fun too.”
When he’s not on the job, Niemeyer is big into baseball and loves fiddling around with mechanical things, trying to figure out how they work.
“It never gets old, learning new things,” Niemeyer said. “I want everyone here to have that love of learning, to embrace the world around them and find what makes them tick and run with it. Over the past year, school hasn’t been much fun for a lot of us, but it will be here at Gaudet, I guarantee that.”