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A changing of the guard in South Kingstown

June 24, 2011

Wakefield Elementary School students gather around outgoing Principal Michelle Little, left, and her replacement Lynn Doherty, who is finishing up her teaching duties at Matunuck Elementary School this week.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – After learning how to read, how to take care of animals like chicks and frogs and how to count change, Matunuck Elementary School first graders say they will miss their teacher, Lynn Doherty. Knowing that their teacher will become Wakefield Elementary School’s new principal, the young students say she is sweet and nice and that Wakefield students are lucky to have her.

For five years, Doherty has been prepared to take on an administrative role and become a school principal after receiving her certification, but she did not want to leave the district she loved so much, South Kingstown. However, after Wakefield Elementary School Principal Michelle Little and West Kingston Elementary Principal Nancy Nettick announced their retirements, the school department offered an in-house search of teachers in the district who would be interested in becoming a principal at one of the two schools for one year in the 2011 to 2012 school year. At the end of the year, the school department will have a national search for the new principal, offering the two principals that took over for next year to apply for the position permanently.

Doherty saw it as her chance.

“I love South Kingstown. I never wanted to leave South Kingstown. Administrative positions haven’t really come up and now that two principals are retiring, it opened a door for me to try administration and not leave the community,” Doherty said.

Doherty began her teaching career 27 years ago after getting her bachelor’s in special education from Loc College in Boston. Although her father wanted her to become a nurse, she knew teaching was a better choice for her especially since she hates the sight of blood.

As a special educator, Doherty first began her career working as a group home manager helping young teenagers in the Blackstone Valley area. Yet, after getting married, she moved to South Kingstown, where her teaching career would soon take off.

Doherty began teaching in South Kingstown as a special education teacher working at the South Road School. However, working with many different students and teachers, she began to see the impact teachers had on students in their classrooms. After seeing one colleague, who she shared a student with, help the student in the classroom, Doherty thought she could use her skills as a special education teacher to help all students in a classroom.

“I thought I could use my skills to help all the kids in the classroom and impact the whole room of kids and meet the needs of a whole range of kids,” Doherty said.

Teaching for 27 years, Doherty said teaching is meant for her.

For more school coverage, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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