From the Superintendent: Here to Help – Just Ask

by | Jan 27, 2024

By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.

As a superintendent, several years ago, I started keeping track of the days of the school year. Using a social media platform, I schedule a quote to be posted at 7 a.m. every day of teaching and learning. My hope is that the quote is inspirational or thought-provoking in some way. This past week, the executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association, Thomas DiPaola, shared that he enjoyed these daily posts. I also have to be candid, he wanted me to remind everyone of the number of days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training for the Yankees. That number as of today is 22. He, too, is a Yankees fan!

As a result of this exchange, I looked at some of my posts for this week. The one above caught my attention.

I’ve been a fan of Simon Sinek for a long time, as I resonate with and am grateful for his insights into leadership. This quote is beautiful. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned in leadership, albeit sometimes the hard way. 

A lot of this has fallen on my shoulders along the lines of my gender. There are a few sayings I’ve heard through the course of my 49 years on this planet: 

  • Boys will be boys
  • Don’t show them you care
  • Real men don’t cry
  • Never ask for help

Since we’ve got a baseball theme going already, I’m 0 for 4 on all these sayings. I don’t believe in any of them. They’re in no way helpful, no matter what your gender is. 

The thing is, and there’s no escaping it, when it comes to help, you have to ask for it. I first met My Wife in 1999, we started dating in 2000, and this coming June, we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. For sure, I know that one of the ways I can make a mistake in my marriage is to try to read her mind. If I can’t read the mind of the person, there’s no way that I can read the mind of anyone else. In exactly the same way, I cannot expect anyone, including My Wife, to be able to read my mind. 

With that as the starting point, I expect people to ask for help. I expect it in my personal life. I expect it in my professional life. I expect to do it myself. I know I can’t do it alone, anywhere in my life. 

Beyond the expectation, I want people to ask for help. We can’t do the work of education, let alone the work of living, by ourselves. Our lives are in no way perfect. Thus, our teaching and learning will in no way be perfect, and our relationships with each other are what make the difference. 

EG public schools are a safe place to ask for help. It’s a place where we treat each other with respect. It’s a place where it’s OK to not be OK. Please just talk to us. 

Give us the honor of being there to support you. It’s one we take very, very seriously. 

Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich public schools.

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