By Kathy McGrath

Centennial Road Junior Public School has a new principal who feels very fortunate to be part of our community. Dan Puglielli, who started his position January 7, says he has “walked into a school with a fabulous culture, a rich history and an outstanding group of parents.”

“I don’t see a need to make a lot of changes,” he explains. “The people in this community should feel pretty confident in public education. They have great schools at all levels.”

Mr. Puglielli is clearly a generous person, giving credit to his office administrator, Tracy Green, for knowing each child’s needs and for making everyone feel welcome at the school while he gets his feet wet.

He says his values of respecting those around him come from his upbringing in a working-class Scarborough family.

Even as Mr. Puglielli started his career and his own family, his connection to Scarborough continued with teaching jobs at Samuel Hearne, Ellesmere Stratton, and, most recently, Joseph Brant Public School near Heron Park Arena.

When asked about the new families who are registering at Centennial Road, he says they are a diverse group that is reflective of Toronto and Canada. “We have families that are brand new to the community and the country, and we also have children who are the second or third generations in families moving in the neighbourhood,” he explains.

“Our goal is to make everyone feel welcome, not just to the school but to the community. A lot of times the school is the hub of a neighbourhood, so we want people to know they can come here for information.”

One of the principal’s priorities is to ensure students feel safe and happy at their school. “The learning will come, but I don’t want any child leaving Grade 6 with the feeling that no one cared about them,” he says.

To that end, Mr. Puglielli is delighted that the school will be holding a wellness day on March 7 where issues of mental health and well-being will be at the forefront. “We’ve invited parents and community members to come into the school and expose our students to resources available to them if they need help.”

He says the influence of social media can factor into a child’s well-being. He explains that while educators are embracing social media for its benefits, they also need to teach children about the potential pitfalls. To engage students at the school, teachers run a gamut of activities including chess club, reading club, folk dance, ball hockey, volleyball, games club and, most recently, a wellness drop-in.

“If my children were at this school, I’d feel confident they are in a place where the teachers know it’s not just about what happens within the four walls of the classroom,” he said.