- Falmouth Public Schools
Rebecca Vieira Appointed Permanent Principal of North Falmouth
By Sarah E. Murphy
Although Rebecca Vieira was initially the new kid at North Falmouth Elementary School this year, she quickly felt at home.
After serving for nearly a year as interim principal at North Falmouth, Mrs. Vieira was recently appointed principal by Superintendent of Schools Lori S. Duerr. Mrs. Vieira replaced Timothy Adams, who is now principal of Morse Pond School.
Mrs. Vieira’s career with Falmouth Public Schools as a teacher and administrator has provided experience from which she continues to draw.
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Mrs. Vieira’s mother grew up in Natick, Mass., so she has fond memories of visiting her grandparents’ home in the Wing’s Neck area of Bourne every August. Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2003 with a degree in art education, she had the opportunity to spend the summer taking care of her grandparents’ Cape house, so she decided to make the move before beginning a career in education.
After an unsuccessful search for a teaching job, Mrs. Vieira (who was then Ms. Noack), moved off-Cape to live with her aunts in Norton and began substitute teaching, spending her weekends in Wing’s Neck pursuing her search.
“I always had my eye on Falmouth. That was the district that I really wanted to work for,” she recalled.
“I was on a continual hunt, but typically, there’s usually only one art teacher in every school, so those jobs can be hard to come by. But I kept putting my feelers out there.”
Finally, she got the call she had been waiting and hoping for, from Jon Keenan, former head of the art department for Falmouth Public Schools.
“They had a part-time opening mid-way through the year, so I started out as a long-term seventh grade substitute art teacher,” Mrs. Vieira said.
The position became full-time, and three years later, when Ms. Keenan retired, Mrs. Vieira was appointed department head, which afforded her the chance to observe firsthand the impact of art education, from elementary to high school.
“I was able to go out and visit all the schools and learn about the whole art program. It was really informative to see how the program progresses in Falmouth Public Schools. That’s a big part of the lens I think about now,” she said.
“It all fits together, and there is a sequence to it.”
Mrs. Vieira finished her tenure at Lawrence as assistant principal, and then spent the second half of the 2021-2022 school year as interim assistant principal at Falmouth High School. Knowing the position was temporary contributed to her decision to don a different hat.
“It was a leap, but it gave me the opportunity to try something else, and continue to grow and have different experiences. Working at the high school also gave me the courage to come to North Falmouth,” she said.
“We had such a great team at Lawrence, and it was hard to break away from there. But luckily we’re still in the same district and we’re all able to work together.”
Since joining the team at North Falmouth, Mrs. Vieira has felt that same connection with her colleagues, which again played a part in her answer when Dr. Duerr offered her the role of principal.
“Being able to come to a building with such a great foundation, with such great collaboration between the teachers, staff, and PTO was such a comforting piece for me. They already had such a solid foundation here that it wasn’t overwhelming,” she said.
“I got to see the way they do things, and then offer my perspective through the other spectrum of grades.”
Mrs. Vieira also brings the perspective of the mother of a middle-schooler. She and her husband, State Representative David Vieira, a 1993 graduate of Falmouth High School, are the parents of ten-year-old Emma, a fifth-grader at Morse Pond.
“She’s had such a great experience, and watching her make that transition from elementary school has also helped me in how I view things here, since she’s just a little bit older than our upper grade students,” she said.
As a Clipper parent, Mrs. Vieira is grateful for the dedication of individuals and organizations throughout the district.
“When I go to different schools and see the culture of each building, I’m truly impressed by the broad range of opportunities for our kids. If children are interested in something, there are staff members, administrators, parents, and people in the community ready to support them. It’s an amazing aspect of Falmouth,” she said.
“Then we have FEF (Falmouth Education Foundation), and VIPS (Volunteers in Public Schools), and their incredible resources that enhance everything, and allow teachers to think outside-the-box and try innovative things.”
Mrs. Vieira credited the North Falmouth PTO for funding an array of opportunities, including after-school programming that supports creative exploration while also offering opportunities for in-person social-emotional learning. The six to eight-week activities are offered twice weekly, such as legos, kickball, bracelet-making, arts and crafts, and dodgeball.
She also underscored the collaboration between North Falmouth and its counterparts - East Falmouth Elementary, Mullen-Hall, and Teaticket, to stage events for Clipper families, such as the recent Elementary Bike Expo, held on Saturday, May 6 at Teaticket.
“All four of the elementary school principals have been working together, and continuing to build events that draw our populations together to build connections has been a priority,” she said.
As Mrs. Vieira prepares for the close of one school year, she is looking ahead to the next, and her biggest priority is the students.
“Fostering a sense of belonging, working with our equity team, and recognizing diversity is a really important piece of my vision for next year. My focus will continue to be on the kiddos, and making them feel safe, and that they belong. If our students don’t feel like they want to be here, then they’re not going to be ready for learning, regardless of what we’re teaching or how we teach it.” she said.
“My goals aren’t big, lofty things, because we already have such great systems in place here. Everyone at North Falmouth cares so much - teachers, administrators, custodians, kitchen staff, office staff, bus drivers. Those components really create the culture and community of the school.”
Before Mrs. Vieira began her position at North Falmouth last summer, she created a mental picture, based upon a metaphor inspired by the school’s dory mascot.
“I kept thinking about how our students all begin with one sail, and we’re starting them out on their journey of becoming a Clipper,” she said.
“They grow each sail as they go along the way, but it all starts here, with this one little sail.”