Niantic Center School principal returns to where it began

Jeffrey Provost, the principal of Niantic Center School and a former assistant principal at East Lyme High School, said he can identify with every single student he meets.

Provost, a graduate of East Lyme High School who attended Niantic Center as a child, said he is fortunate that he can tell students that he sat in their chair years ago and knows what it is like.

"That's when you can make a difference," said Provost, who became Niantic Center interim principal this year and was recently appointed to the permanent position.

Provost recently honored someone who helped him on his own journey: Lucy Schuman, who also once served as Niantic Center School principal and East Lyme High School assistant principal.

Provost said Schuman mentored him when he started his administrative career as assistant principal of the high school in 2003. He said Schuman shared her philosophies and wisdom with him.

"Any questions you had or anything you needed, she was always there," Provost said.

Schuman visited Niantic Center School as Provost's guest at 'Breakfast with a Buddy' on March 28, a long-standing tradition at Niantic Center School.

Schuman said she has always believed that a school community is a family.

She said if she ran into parents downtown, she would encourage them to stop by the school. Greeters at the door were there to welcome people.

"People need to feel welcome," she explained.

Schuman said she believes it's important for kids to have a balance between academics, athletics, art or another hobby. Fun activities, such as the school's summer reading bonfire at the beach, reward students for their hard work and help them understand the importance of balance.

Schuman retired as Niantic Center School principal in Dec. 2009. Melissa DeLoreto served in the position until becoming principal of the Lillie B. Haynes School this year.

Provost, who was named Connecticut Association of Schools High School Assistant Principal of the Year in 2010, began at the high school as a special education teacher and coached baseball and football. He also has served as the director of the alternative education program.

Provost has three daughters: Julia, a freshman at the University of Albany, Josephine, a freshman at East Lyme High School, and Jacqueline who is in fourth grade at Niantic Center School. He met his wife, Beth, a special education teacher at East Lyme High School, while they were both in kindergarten at Niantic Center School. 

Provost said some of his former students from the high school now have children at Niantic Center. One of those former students, T.J. Falvey, was bringing his family to the breakfast.

"It's exciting," Falvey said. "I'm very happy to have Mr. Provost as principal."  

k.drelich@theday.com

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