Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

Spotlight: Andrew Rebello (MA '23)

May 17, 2024

At Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, Principal and Assistant Superintendent Andrew Rebello (MA '23) leads with a focus on the future, equally invested in the academic success and social-emotional well-being of his students. "At the end of the day, my goal is to help students grow into confident, compassionate and resilient individuals who are ready to take on whatever life throws their way." Andrew received a Milken Educator Award in Fall River, MA, on October 20, 2023.

Milken Family Foundation: How have students responded since your Milken Educator Award surprise?

Andrew Rebello (MA '23): Our students are amazing. Students met me with congratulatory high-fives, cards and emails for some time after the ceremony. I really felt the love!

MFF: Who are your role models as an educator? Is there an experience you had in the classroom as a student that shaped who you are as an educator?

Rebello: Playing sports has always been a huge part of my life. Numerous coaches have provided mentorship, guidance and advice along the way, shaping me into who I am today. Their focus on the development and growth of their players, athletically and personally, has always stayed with me. Everything I do as an educator is to help students grow and reach their full potential. 

Attending New Bedford High School impacted me the most as an educator. Our school was a melting pot of diversity. Nearly 4,000 students inhabited the school. I witnessed firsthand the impact of education. I learned that one conversation or one adult believing in you could shape the trajectory of someone's life. I witnessed the disparity of opportunity for some compared to others. This shaped my view of schooling and how I believe it can be the great equalizer in our society. 

MFF: How does your background as a guidance counselor inform your work as an administrator?

I think being a guidance counselor taught me to always look at the whole child as I approach this work. For example, if the student is missing school – what are the barriers? If a student is acting out – what is causing that behavior? To truly grow and develop students, we must understand what they are dealing with and look to support their fundamental needs. As educators, we know that if a student's fundamental needs are not met, learning cannot occur. Today, more than ever, we are seeing a rise in student mental health issues. Being a guidance counselor has supported my work with the growth of students. 

MFF: What do you hope students remember from their time with you?

Rebello: That they can achieve anything in this life. My biggest hope is that students walk away from their time with me feeling empowered, inspired and equipped with the tools they need to thrive. We have embodied a "Life Ready" mission at our high school. Can you think critically, problem-solve, balance a checkbook and your budget, look someone in the eye when speaking and understand the importance of helping others? These characteristics far supersede the academic and vocational components of their education. 

At the end of the day, my goal is to help students grow into confident, compassionate and resilient individuals who are ready to take on whatever life throws their way. If they can walk away from their time with me with those values in mind and with the tools to handle the challenges life will throw at them, then it is mission accomplished. 

MFF: Under your leadership, Diman saw its highest graduation rate in school history at 98 percent. What programs or initiatives have helped the most?

Rebello: Data is our north star. Using data to identify early trends and creating systems and safety nets for struggling students has dramatically affected our graduation rate. We have developed early warning systems and intensive data reviews to identify struggling students and provide intervention proactively. These programs offered additional support, resources and personalized attention to help students stay on track and succeed. These support services include strategically investing in a math interventionist, direct-study tutor, one-on-one pullout services, virtual tutoring, Saturday acceleration academies, and more. 

Recognizing the importance of addressing the holistic needs of our students, we invested in social and emotional support services. Transition counselors, restorative justice counselors and mental health professionals who run group sessions are readily available to provide students with the support they need to overcome challenges and thrive academically and personally.

We have leveraged our position as a vocational-technical high school. Our programs provide relevant, real-world, hands-on learning experiences and industry certifications, engaging students who may have otherwise struggled in traditional academic settings. Our cooperative education program is a huge incentive for students. During their junior year, students are connected with high-paying jobs in their trade. They go to work for two weeks at a time, earning money and real-world experience. 

MFF: What advice would you share with people who are interested in becoming educators?

Rebello: My message to those interested in becoming educators is that you will undoubtedly impact lives daily. It is a profession where you can tangibly see the fruit of your labor. Once in the work, education is a dynamic field that is constantly evolving. Stay curious, open-minded and committed to lifelong learning. Don't be afraid to ask for help or seek support when you need it. Teaching can be emotionally and physically demanding, so it's essential to prioritize self-care. Above all, remember that being an educator is more than just a job – it's a calling to inspire, empower and shape the next generation. If you're passionate about making a difference in the lives of students, then pursuing a career in education can be incredibly fulfilling and meaningful.

MFF: Are you working on any interesting initiatives or new projects these days? Is there anything else you want to share about your school?

Rebello: I am incredibly proud of an initiative we just launched: starting a school-based health center. Healthcare is a human right, and we have found that many in our community do not have access to adequate healthcare. Additionally, large co-pays and appointment availability burden families, forcing them to miss work and skyrocketing student absenteeism. In true Diman form, silence and inaction are not in our DNA. Our school has partnered with a local healthcare facility to offer primary care services provided by medical doctors and family nurse practitioners to our students during the school day. Students can see a doctor with no co-pay. This allows students to receive the next level of care without missing an entire school day for an outside medical appointment. 

I am also proud that U.S. News and World Report has recognized our school as one of the best high schools in the nation for the third time in school history and the third time in four years. According to our state accountability system, our school is the highest-performing high school in the area. The perseverance and determination to meet our high standards from our students and educators made these achievements possible. 

Watch our interview with Andrew Rebello (MA '23) on the day of his Milken Award notification:



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