Dr. Joe Arangio, Jr. is a lucky man. He found his calling – education - and he found it early. And his passion for teaching and school administration has lasted almost 50 years.
Fortunately for Milton, a number of those years have been spent at . Some of you may remember him when he was the principal of the high school, from 1997-2002. Recently Arangio has accepted a position as the interim principal at the high school for the 2011-12 school year.
When asked how it feels to return to a full-time position after retiring, Arangio says: “It feels great; it’s been nine years and it’s like those nine years never happened.”
About 25 percent of the staff worked with Arangio during his earlier tenure at the school. And at least one person, who is a teacher now at the high school, was a Milton High student when Arangio was principal.
“I’ve had other invitations to go to other places after ‘retiring’ five years ago, but I never before wanted to take time away from smelling the roses. The only time that I’d give up my retirement is now, to help the school and the community of Milton. It was tough to say ‘no,’” says Arangio.
You would never guess by his ambitious agenda that Arangio is back at the helm of the high school for only one year as interim principal.
“I hope that I can make a difference. I hope to nudge the school in every avenue that I can, and to make the school a better place to work and a better place to learn,” says Arangio. “My goal is to make every student feel comfortable during the school day and outside of school. If students feel isolated or disengaged, we need to find out why and get someone to help them.”
Arangio describes himself as a “strict no-nonsense principal.” He uses words like planned, orderly, structured, clean and business-like when describing an ideal learning environment. He believes in enforcing policies that support a safer school and in utilizing every minute of instructional time for learning.
When Arangio first came to the high school in 1997, the high school was facing re-accreditation and an outdated facility. Although the school is now up for re-accreditation again, a lot has changed in the interim: the level of academic rigor in the school has been raised; the facility has been updated; and many of the prior issues have been addressed, says Arangio.
Before coming to Milton, Arangio had worked as a teacher or administrator in four other school districts: two in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut, and one in the Washington, DC area.
Born in Boston, Arangio was president of his high school class at East Boston High School. He earned three degrees in education from Boston University – a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. After a stint as a medic in the military, his first job in education was teaching middle school and high school science and social science in a rural district in the southern part of the state.
Arangio and his wife live in Boston and are the parents of three grown married children, whose jobs, Arangio says, represent disparate occupational fields and talents: His daughter, who was always a people person, is an attorney; his younger son, who was always analytical and interested in technology, now works in the computer sciences; and his older son, always the most artistic one in the family, now uses his writing skills as a researcher for a market analysis company.
Arangio’s own career path demonstrates that it’s possible for a “retiree” to stay involved in one’s profession - as he did by working part-time at the professional development program at Harvard Graduate School of Education - and to boomerang to a prior employer, should the right opportunity present itself. He advises people to consider a career in education if they “want to work with kids and want to make a difference to the long-term future of this planet.”