Rico Mariello is the new head administrator at John F. Kennedy Memorial School in Biddeford. COURTESY PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — Rico Mariello, the successor to Lindsey Nadeau as John F. Kennedy Memorial School’s early childhood coordinator, said he’s ready to take on his new duties as administrator.

Nadeau is the new principal at Biddeford Intermediate School.

Before taking the position, Mariello was the service coordinator at Biddeford Intermediate School, and previously taught at Biddeford Middle School.

Mariello said that he has lived in Biddeford for most of his life. The passion he has for the district makes him want to strive to keep the schools successful and engaging for all students.

“I love this district and want to be a part of it,” he said. “I think it’s growing and it’s going to be the place where everyone’s going to want to be. Our community is rising.”

For most of his life, Mariello said, he knew he wanted to be an educator.

“This passion started a long time ago when I was in high school, and I enrolled in the Mother Goose Nursery School as a student teacher,” he said. “From that point on, I always knew that I wanted to get into education. I love working with kids. I love the light-bulb moments, when you can see, just, they get it. That’s exciting. And to meet kids where they’re at, just be that person they can rely on.”

One of Mariello’s goals for the school year will be to raise test scores, he said.

“It’s always to raise scores,” he said. “I want to make sure that we are where we need to be. We’re always striving in Biddeford to be excellent. We’re on the path, and I feel like this is where it starts, here at the Kindergarten Center. We have amazing teachers who are committed, dedicated and absolutely love what they do, so that makes my job easy.”

The JFK teaches pre-K and Kindergarten students, and the goal is to make sure the children will be prepared to enter first grade, Mariello said.

He added that he believes the school year will be positive, yielding a class of successful, eager students.

“We do personalized learning here,” he said, “so every teacher is striving to meet kids where they’re at in their learning. You’ll see all different things going on in the classroom during the course of a day. There are going to be some (students) that are achieving higher and some who need more help, and that teacher is responsible now for each of these groups.”

Mariello said that he wants to do the best job he can. While mainly confident, he has had moments where he is unsure, but believes he is in great hands, with plenty of resources available.

“My only concern was if I can do a good job,” he said. “You want to make sure you’re doing a good job and representing Biddeford the best that you can. I don’t want to let anyone down. I’m very hard on myself and I’m my own worst critic. But if you surround yourself with people that are good, good things are going to happen.”

One of the most important qualities to a principal, Mariello said, is being there for the whole school, students and staff.

“In my own opinion, a good principal is someone who knows their stuff but is willing to listen to others,” he said. “Just open ears and open eyes, and just being present in the school, being a part of it, engaging with the kids, keeping up and the safety. Make sure that everything here is safe for our students and staff.”

With the new school year approaching quickly, Mariello said he’s just excited to see how everything will go.

“I’m just really excited to start the year and see where this goes, being a part of this, hopefully, my whole career,” he said. “Biddeford is where I grew up, it’s in me, that Tiger Pride. It’s the place to be.”

-Catherine Bart can be reached at [email protected] or 780-9029.

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