Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 10-31-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 CUMBERLAND OCTOBER 31-NOVEMBER 6, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION CUMBERLAND – For Sister Rayleen Giannotti, starting her new role as principal of Mercymount Country Day School, where she worked as a religion teacher in the early 2000s, feels like a homecom- ing. "I've loved being back … I feel warmly welcomed," the Cumberland resident told The Breeze. "In some ways I feel wel- comed home." Giannotti, a Sister of Mercy, whose official start date was Oct. 7, taught religion to stu- dents in grades 6-8 for six years in the early to mid-2000s. She took over the principal role from Susan Morrissey, who's now the associate superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Providence. On Oct. 8, students, faculty, and staff at Mercymount, located at 35 Wrentham Road in Cumberland, along with Sister Regina Ward, associate director for mercy mis- sion integration, joined together in prayer to welcome and install Giannotti, according to a release. "I think Mercymount is a phe- nomenal school. It's a wonder- ful place to be," said Giannotti, a native of Tiverton. "We will con- tinue to grow and build on love and strength. I'm really excited to be here and looking forward to some great years." As the school's new leader, Giannotti said her focus is on MERCY, an acronym she created that stands for moral agency, educa- tional excellence, relationship, com- munication, and "you." She explained that she wants students to have a sense of moral agency, to be self-possessed in a way that has integrity. As for educational excellence, she noted that her predecessor helped bring project-based learning to the school, which will be continued under her leadership. Focus will also be on teaching students critical thinking and STEAM, and helping them grow in emotional intelligence and with technological skills, she said. It's also important that they "really be able to talk and be articu- late," she said. Relationship refers to the com- munity at the school, she said, and making sure "we're in relationship with each other and tap each other's gifts and skills and bring the best out in each other." Parents, faculty, and students are all important to the community, of which God is at the center, she said. "Relationships are critical." With communication, she said it's important people aren't always going to agree on things but it's important to talk to each other and understand why we have differ- ences. Finally, "you" refers to each indi- vidual person, she said. "Each indi- vidual is a unique gift of a loving God. How do we help (each) person realize that?" she said. In addition to this vision, Giannotti said she will build on all of the love that has been poured into Mercymount. "There are a lot of people who poured themselves into the community, and it's evi- dent," she said. The new principal said she'll work to continue to create an environ- ment where kids can flourish, and they can recognize their significant place. When asked if she anticipates any challenges, Giannotti said it's important to stay on the cutting edge in education and always look for best practices. "Kids learn dif- ferently today than they did five years ago and five years prior to that," she said.She also has to work to retain the best and brightest teachers, she said, and to spread the word about the phenomenal things happening at the school, including the fact that Mercymount offers financial aid. While work- ing as a teacher at Mercymount, Giannotti, who has a bachelor's degree in politics from Salve Regina University and a master's in edu- cation from Boston College, said she realized she wanted to venture into administration. She left Rhode Island to pursue an internship in administration at Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska, and took additional courses at Creighton University. Prior to her current role, Giannotti was a novice minister with the Sisters of Mercy in Laredo, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri, and then served as vice president and director of Mission Integration at Trinity Health in Pennsylvania. In 1993, Giannotti entered the Sisters of Mercy. "I'm excited to be back in educa- tion," Giannotti said. "This is where I come alive and am most alive." She added that she's also excited to be back in her home state. "I think Rhode Island is a really good kept secret," she said. "I love the people. … It's home for me. It's a beautiful state." While there are Sisters of Mercy throughout the U.S., the Sisters in this area are the ones she grew up with, she said. "These were women who helped mentor me and befriended me and helped me understand what it means to be a Sister of Mercy." Giannotti comes home to Mercymount, as principal By MELANIE THIBEAULT Valley Breeze Staff Writer BREEZE PHOTO BY MELANIE THIBEAULT SISTER RAYLEEN GIANNOTTI, who started her new role as principal of Mercymount Country Day School in Cumberland on Oct. 7, sits in her office last Friday.

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