From the moment he began teaching in the Valparaiso school system, Dr. Ric Frataccia has understood both the responsibility and opportunity of positively impacting our kids.
“In Valpo, its a full circle for me coming back to lead the school system where I began so many years ago,” Frataccia said. “I raised my boys here and Valpo has provided my wife and I so many opportunities that I am blessed with the chance to give back.”
Frataccia, former superintendent of the Portage school system, touched on a few key areas of focus that he believes are essential to success in every organization, but particularly good school systems.
Communication and working together, he says, is key. Teachers, the community, school board and students all need to be in sync to allow our children every opportunity to succeed.
“We are going to do this together,” he said. “I happen to have been chosen as the leader and I cherish the chance to bring those groups together. This will not be me, it will be WE.”
He says truthfulness is another important virtue.
“If someone asks me a question, I will give them a truthful response,” he said. “It’s not always a popular thing, but integrity will be earned. What you say is what you mean. It is not only possible, but probable that someone else will have a better idea than you. In my world, the one with the best idea wins.”
Culture is another one of those values that is important to a successful school system.
“You can never take a culture for granted,” he said. “Valpo has had a tradition of excellence and that culture over time can slip. We are going to get it back and get it back quickly. People have to feed and nurture a culture and we will have many groups involved to make sure that happens.”
Frataccia acknowledges the specific challenges he will face as new superintendent of the Valparaiso school system.
“We’re looking at facilities, a potential referendum, our relationship with the community, our teachers, and the structure of how we communicate,” he said. “Communication needs to travel from the head to the teachers and back up the chain in an open manner that builds trust, transparency and the team.”
He understands though, that change will inevitably make some people “nervous.”
“Nervous people tend to get upset and speak less than cordial,” he said. “Board meetings must be civil, without civil tone people don’t listen to each other.”
His experience with the Portage school system will make a difference coming to Valpo.
“The growth, knowledge and skill set by the teachers and administrators led directly to the achievement of our kids,” he said, “which is the highest it’s ever been in the school system‘s history.”
Hitting the ground running
Frataccia said he has already begun attending meetings after school and has a grip on some of the issues that he will face as superintendent.
“First I want to dig into the business processes and metrics of the school system, in particular the facilities plan and the finance plan,” he said. “Achievement here has been high, but continuous improvement is always something you can be working on. We will quantify our best practices, and those that know it - great. If not, I’ll teach you.”
Dr. Frataccia or Kaye’s husband?
In addition to her involvement in a multitude or community and non-profit service groups, Kaye Frataccia, Ric’s wife, currently serves on the Parks Foundation Board and is involved with Empower Porter County. Some say the Frataccias are the power couple in Valpo.
“I am proud that many people know me more as Kaye’s husband than Ric Frataccia,” he said.