STI Director becomes new Principal of Southeastern Regional

With more than 30 years of professional experience in vocational education, David Degan is now Principal at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School.  Mr. Degan was appointed in late February and will serve as interim principal until July 1, when he will become permanent in his position.  He follows former Principal David Wheeler, who resigned after working in the job for ten years.

“I’m a great believer in change, and I view this as a positive thing.  When Superintendent Lopes asked me if I wanted to take the position, I took it as a compliment–and as a great opportunity,” he said.

Mr. Degan, 57, has worked in the Southeastern Regional School District for 30 years, starting as a pastry and baking teacher in 1986.  After 13 years, he was promoted to be the vocational director and then served as assistant principal form 2004 to 2009.  His most recent position has been as the Director of Southeastern Technical Institute (STI), which offers vocational-technical training and education for adults.

Superintendent Luis Lopes described Mr. Degan as a veteran teacher and administrator who has a proven track record in the school district.

“I cannot think of anyone better qualified to lead our high school as we celebrate our 50th anniversary next year.  His even temper and attention to detail is a great asset to our school and I look forward to working alongside him as we lead our school into the next 50 years,” Mr. Lopes said.

Mr. Degan considers himself a product of vocational education, having studied vocational programs in high school and college before pursuing degrees in education. He attended the Henry O. Peabody School, where he studied Culinary Arts, Cape Cod College, where he earned an associate degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Fitchburg State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Education, and Bridgewater State University, where he received a M.Ed. and a CAGS in Educational Leadership.

“I didn’t realize it when I was in high school, but vocational education is the best way to teach students.  You combine all the elements that make a good learner an even better learner.  We give them confidence to be able to go on to further education or right to the workplace, with a fine set of skills and knowledge that other schools don’t offer,” he said.

While working as a teacher and administrator, Mr. Degan also worked as a speech coach, helping high school students prepare for the SkillsUSA conference, a national competition for vocational students.  He said he has always been an “educator at heart” and has consistently enjoyed working directly with students.

Last week, he was able to attend the district SkillsUSA competition, which was hosted at Southeastern, and he said it has been the highlight of his new career.

“I was impressed with everything.  Just to watch everyone at the SkillsUSA competition and the enthusiasm the staff showed though out the day was amazing.  They made sure it was a great day for not only our kids but for everyone involved,” he said.

Mr. Degan said he doesn’t expect to make any major changes in the short term, but “all facets of the school will be examined, and any changes we make going forward will be in the best interests of students and learning.”  He said his biggest challenge is to get up to speed with high schools in 2017, and for that, he’s depending on his team of administrators, teachers and support staff for assistance.

“I have been out of the high school for eight years and it is different than secondary education.  But I have a good, global understanding as to how a high school should be run, and I clearly understand that there is a strong team around me that is a true strength,” he said.

When he’s not working, Mr. Degan enjoys being outdoors and raising Doberman Pinschers with his wife.  They have one daughter and three grandchildren.

“We love Doberman Pinschers–that’s our passion.  And we spend a lot of time enjoying what is all around us,” he said.

By:  Candace Hall