Portage Bids Adieu to Dr. Frataccia

As the school year winds to a close and the class of 2014 prepares to graduate, the Portage Township School Corporation will also have to say goodbye to Superintendent Dr. E. Ric Frataccia.

An open house was held for Frataccia on Wednesday afternoon, where teachers and members of the community came to celebrate with and thank him for all he has done in the two years he spent as Portage Superintendent.

Willowcreek Middle School’s and both of Portage High School’s jazz bands played music as their parting gifts. Frataccia was also presented with a four-foot-long handcrafted baseball bat made by Ron Kittle and an eagle-shaped trophy from the JROTC classes.

Frataccia, who is resigning from his position as Portage superintendent, will be transferring his knowledge to Valparaiso when he begins working as their superintendent next year.

From his experience at Portage, he has learned to “reinforce that together, the concept of WE; capital W, capital E; can make a big difference in a kid’s life and the way a community responds to its schools.”

Even though he is leaving, Frataccia would like to have a lasting impression on the schools of Portage.

“I think we will leave behind a professional staff that’s really powerful; very strong; very, very confident up and down the line. We’re really proud of that,” Frataccia said. “The district is financially secure. Kids are proud of their achievements. It feels good.”

Some of his fondest memories from Portage include achieving honors such as Four-Star schools and an overall ‘A’ rating for the district.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Tracy has worked side-by-side with Frataccia during his time in Portage, and much of what he has done has impacted her.

“I think that he has been a great educator,” Tracy said. “He’s educated all of the teachers about curriculum and how to have best practice in the classroom. I think he single-handedly has made the biggest difference in the scores and the success of the students.”

Portage High School Principal Caren Swickard also feels like Frataccia has made an impact, and she believes there are many teachings he will leave behind.

“I would say [we will keep] the legacy of best practice, that teachers know that no matter what kind of kid you have in your classroom, if you use best practice, you’re going to be successful, and our kids are great kids and they can do it, too,” Swickard said. “I think he’s instilled a lot of confidence and pride in the school.”

Swickard said Frataccia created the District Quality Schools Team, which took a group of teachers from each school and gathered them at the high school once a month to learn new leadership techniques and reinforce the benefits of collaboration between schools in the Portage district. The teachers were strongly influenced by this team.

“They’re going to miss him because when you went to them you felt like you were sitting in a college class learning from the master,” Swickard said.

Along with their teachers, the students also felt his presence within the past two years.

“Being superintendent is definitely a great achievement, and we wish him all the best when he goes to Valpo to continue,” Portage High School senior Jordan Kwiatkowski said.