Old Saybrook High School principal takes a year off for passion project to give teens a voice


OLD SAYBROOK – Sheila Riffle takes her passion for empowering students to find their voice from the halls of Old Saybrook High School to the national level.

From June 30, the principal of Old Saybrook Secondary School will take a year off to work with the National Federation of Secondary Schools, Student Voice Initiatives.

“I think every time you give students agency or a voice and help them see that their ideas can come to fruition, you’re building that foundation and that opportunity for future leadership,” she said.

In this role, Riffle will work with students across the country on leadership qualities, team building, and ways to prepare students for leadership in high school and beyond.

Riffle has been principal of Old Saybrook High School for nine years.

The Old Saybrook School Board approved the one-year furlough at its April 5 meeting. No decision has yet been made on who will replace Riffle as manager.

The National Federation of High Schools is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind.

Its mission is “to provide leadership for the administration of education-based high school athletics and activities by writing rules of play that emphasize health and safety, educational programs that develop leaders and administrative support to increase opportunities and promote sportsmanship,” according to nfhs.org.

Riffle will work to improve the work currently being done at the NFHS.

“I’m going to work with their existing team to look at what they’re currently doing for student leadership and then help them revamp it,” Riffle said.

The goal of the project, she said, is to “determine what the similarities are across the country in terms of what is working well for students in their public high schools and what is not working well for students from their public high schools and find those themes and then build it from there.

“Giving these students a platform, whether it’s public service announcements or working with legislative bodies,” she said. “Give students a solid place at the table.”

Most of the work will be done virtually, giving Riffle the chance to personally share his work with local high schools.

Old Saybrook Schools Superintendent Jan Perruccio said it was an opportunity Riffle could not pass up.

“I think it’s one of those passion projects that if it comes your way and it’s something that you’ve always expressed that you want to do, you have to pursue it,” Perruccio said.

“I think if there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the past few years, it’s that life can change very quickly and it’s really important to seize opportunities,” she said. added.

Perruccio explained how this job will benefit the local district and enhance Riffle’s job as a manager.

“I can’t imagine accepting a job that has the potential to be national and to be in other school districts, to work with other professionals across the country, and then bring that experience back to traditional public education work, I can’t imagine it wouldn’t benefit,” she said.

“God, every time I go to a national conference I come back with so much information, so imagine living an entire year like this,” she said.

Riffle’s passion for the project is evident.

“I think one of the most exciting parts of it all is the idea of ​​working with teens and teens all over the country and finding these common threads, and yet where we differ in terms of what’s going on. from region to region across the country,” she said.

“I am so fortunate to work in a district and for a superintendent who supports efforts that hopefully can ultimately improve teaching and learning for children and educators,” she said.

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