Meet KP’s New Superintendent of Schools

Grace Allen
Paul Zinni, KP’s new superintendent of schools.
Issue Date: 
September, 2018
Article Body: 

Schools in the King Philip district will open this week under new leadership.
Paul Zinni, KP’s new superintendent of schools, officially started work on July 1, and has spent the summer getting ready for the 2018-2019 school year. His priority this year, he says, will be to get to know the King Philip community in order to get a clear understanding of its needs.
“Every school system is unique, with strengths as well as areas of growth it needs to work on,” he said. “It’s important for me to come in first and observe and talk with people to get to know the lay of the land.”
With over 30 years of experience in the field of education, it’s almost certain Zinni will come up to speed quickly. Prior to taking the KP job, Zinni was Avon’s (preK-12) superintendent for the past five years. He also served as the Director of Pupil Services in Avon, as well as in various roles in the school system, from early childhood education to special needs. Before Avon, Zinni spent fourteen years in the Taunton schools, both as an educator and as an administrator.
“I’m not coming in as a first-time superintendent. That’s the good news,” said Zinni, when asked about the challenges he will face at KP. “But this is the first time I’ve worked in a regional district, so there will be a learning curve.”
Zinni believes in building relationships, and knows those relationships will be key to running the system successfully. He has met with all three town managers in the district, as well as the three elementary school superintendents. Everyone, he said, has been gracious and welcoming.
“I think it’s no secret that King Philip has struggled as far as the budget, and the towns that support King Philip have struggled to support King Philip’s budget,” said Zinni. “That’s going to be the challenge, to make sure I understand things from all sides.”
Support for public education, said Zinni, is easier when communities understand exactly what the schools are offering their students. King Philip’s accomplishments are not always recognized, he believes, citing figures that show Massachusetts schools outperforming schools in the rest of the country in math and science, and by some assessments, outperforming schools in the world. And King Philip’s scores, he notes, are outperforming state averages.
“I don’t think we celebrate the successes of King Philip enough,” said Zinni. “At KP we have an incredibly talented group of individuals working with our students and providing them with a quality education. Couple that education with the activities, the sports, and the arts that are offered, and we have students who are walking out of here well-rounded, highly-educated, and ready to face what’s next. So one of my priorities is to make sure that people are aware of the great things happening in this school community. When people are making the decision of private vs. public school, I hope they’ll look closely enough to realize that in fact, with KP, they get a private school education for a public school price.”
Zinni acknowledged the schools have to work harder to get that message to the parents of younger children.
“We have three very strong educational programs at the elementary level. And I think sometimes people see us as almost in competition with each other, when in fact we are a continuum of educational services. A house is only as strong as the foundation it’s set upon. I see it as a partnership where the elementary schools begin the process of construction and then they turn the finish work over to KP so that we can make sure there is a leak-proof roof and strong walls. And so by the time students leave school, the result is a high-quality house.”
Zinni intends to be a hands-on superintendent, and believes one of his strengths is his broad background, which includes years of working with the special education population in grades K-12. He has a strong understanding of student services for struggling and at-risk students, as well as curriculum and instruction for regular education.
“I think that helps me with perspective. And as a superintendent, I believe I need to know what’s going on in the classrooms, so I visit throughout the year. I think that’s important.”
Zinni serves on several U.S. educational boards, and is also on the board of directors for the Council for Exceptional Children, an organization with over 27,000 members in 26 countries.
“That allows me to get a global perspective,” he said.
Zinni says he knew by middle school he would be a teacher someday. He attended Bridgewater State University (formerly Bridgewater State College) and majored in both elementary education and special education, with a minor in mathematics. He later returned to Bridgewater for advanced graduate studies in administration, and completed doctoral coursework (ABD) from NOVA Southeastern University.
He also has a master’s from Lesley University in creative arts and learning.
“I have a passion for the arts and those activities that help to create the whole person,” he said. “We sometimes hyper-focus on academics and athletics, but I think it’s important to celebrate the arts, too. As a teacher, I found it was a great way to help learning come alive for my students.”
The job at King Philip piqued his interest because it was an opportunity to work in a regional system—a new challenge. The KP job also presented the chance to focus on the age group he enjoys working with the most, middle and high school students.
Zinni, who calls himself a voracious reader, has been married 30 years to his wife Catherine, an elementary school principal. They have two adult children, a daughter Alexandra and a son Nicholas, who is currently deployed in Kosovo with the Army National Guard.
Hoping to get to know as many members of the KP community as possible, Superintendent Zinni was in the process of planning several “meet and greet” events at Local Town Pages deadline. He also encourages people to visit or call him.
“I love to hear from the community, and people are always welcome at any time,” he said.
Contact Zinni at 508-520-7991 x250 or by email at [email protected].