From Supt. Ricca: Being Brave Enough to Risk Failure

by | Jun 2, 2023

More than a year ago, My Family and I took a trip to Hawaii. It was planned long before we even considered moving away from Vermont. It was planned for our first post-Covid trip as a follow-up to Thailand, which we completed in the spring of 2019. It was a wonderful family vacation, full of disconnection from the real world, playing cards, and being lazy on the beach. Just the four of us. 

We did try our hand at surfing because when in Hawaii… and I couldn’t do it. I tried twice, once in Honolulu and once while we were in Maui. I really couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried. I needed to have the correct balance, or feet positioning, or something. It didn’t happen. I was up briefly for a few seconds in Maui, and the organization that was with us in the water got this picture of me. 

Supt. Brian Ricca on a surfboard … for a moment anyway.

Moments later, I fell off the board and was in the water. But I was up, standing briefly. I was surfing. 

The entire time I was surfing, in both places in Hawaii, I was thinking about this quote that I saw from Lan Phan, the CEO of Community of Seven: 

While I never was genuinely successful surfing, I did see a lot of bravery this year: 

  • My own children started a new school, in a new state, with great academic success, both earning honors in their respective grades. 
  • Our older son Patrick tried out for a new AAU basketball team, and while he is the shortest on the court, that has not daunted him in the least. 

Brian Ricca’s son playing basketball.

  • Our younger son Brendan picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time in his life in 8th grade and earned minutes on the varsity team.

Brian Ricca’s son playing lacrosse.

It’s really something to be inspired and awed by your own children. 

I’ve also seen a lot of bravery in East Greenwich Public Schools: 

  • EG had a Presidential Scholar named by the United States Department of Education, Guy Sanchez. This type of commitment to academics means welcoming failure and being brave in the face of the academic unknown.

Guy Sanchez and fellow R.I. Senate Youth delegate Dominick Lombard meet with Senator Whitehouse. Submitted photo

  • East Greenwich High School was named a National Unified Champion School, becoming the only district in Rhode Island with a high school and middle school earning this distinction. This honor is bestowed only where an inclusive student environment can be documented. This bravery speaks for itself. 

Unified Volleyball team captains Matt Carosotto and Leo Kaldor hold the state championship plaque, flanked by fellow captains Oliveia Shaughnessy and Mia Schenenga. Submitted photo

  • Other acts of bravery are as varied as the humans that work and come to school in our district. I’ve seen adults advocating for our students. I’ve seen our students standing up for each other. I’ve seen our leadership team advocate for what was needed to ensure our Strategic Plan “All Means All” is a reality for every child. I’ve seen our School Committee and Town Council collaborate on projects and budgets. 

None of these things would have been possible without the bravery of the people involved. Bravery takes the courage to step outside your comfort zone. Bravery means embracing discomfort. Bravery means there is no guarantee of success. 

You may suck. You may fall off the surfboard into the water. You may end up a Presidential Scholar. Or somewhere in between. 

We’ll never know unless we’re brave enough to try. 

Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.

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3 Comments

  1. Sandy Burrows

    I always enjoy reading Superintendent Ricca’s posts. They are interesting and motivational.

    Reply
  2. Matthew Tsimikas

    Yes Brian!

    We must!

    Reply
  3. T. Roosevelt

    The Man in the Arena

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    Reply

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