Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory announced Tuesday that Julius Sprauve School Principal Dionne Wells will be serving as Interim St. Thomas-St. John Superintendent of Schools, effective Oct. 1.
Wells will be taking over for long-time Superintendent Jeanette Smith-Barry, who will be retiring after 41 years with the Department. Smith-Barry was appointed to serve as Superintendent in January of 2008.
“I am thankful to have been able to work alongside Superintendent Smith-Barry, who has – despite various challenges and limited resources – remained steadfast in her commitment to our schools and students,” Frett-Gregory said. “She has been unwavering in her passion for learning, has pushed our students to excel beyond their own expectations and has been a staunch advocate for many of the initiatives that we are implementing today. She has dedicated 41 years – more than half her life – to serving the children of this territory and has impacted countless lives in a truly positive way.”
Frett-Gregory said that in the interim, she has named Wells for the position.
“I have had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Wells work her way up through the ranks of the Department, beginning as a teacher at Sprauve in the early 1990’s and most recently, serving as the principal at both our St. John schools,” Frett-Gregory said. “In every capacity, she has shown her ability to lead, and I am confident that she is ready to take on this new role. I look forward to seeing her continue to advocate on behalf our teachers and students.”
After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Tuskegee University in 1993, Wells returned home and began working in 1993 as a science teacher at Sprauve. After eight years at the school, Wells moved on to pursue her Masters of Education in Supervision and Instruction from the University of the Virgin Islands. Upon her graduation in 2003, Wells immediately applied for an assistant principal position at Sprauve and was hired a few months later. She continued working in that capacity until 2006, when she moved over to Guy Benjamin School as Acting Principal – a position she held until 2011, when she was moved back to Sprauve.
“During all of these transitions, I was afforded the opportunity to grow as an administrator, and to stand on my own two feet alone without the luxury of an Assistant Principal,” Wells said recently. “I did as much as I could and was committed to doing it well – a practice that I continue to live by and will bring into this new position. I am also truly committed to making a difference in the lives of our children — being an educator requires a level of understanding, patience and willingness to confront challenges knowing that the ultimate goal is to improve teaching and learning for all children of the Virgin Islands and that will continue to be my task moving forward.”