‘I felt a loyalty to help the Hawthorne students’

Former principal accepts interim principal position at Hawthorne


Matt Austin

Retired principal Tom DeMaio was offered an interim principal position by Hawthorne District Superintendent Richard A. Spirito for the 2020-21 school year.

Isabella Zuluaga, Staff Editor

Former Pascack Valley Principal Tom DeMaio said he felt “nostalgia” when he was first offered the position to become an interim principal at Hawthorne High School – the school he graduated from. 

“One of the big factors that made me and my wife decide to take this position is because [Hawthorne] is the town we live in and the school I went to,” DeMaio said. “A little part of it was sentimental to have an opportunity to work at the school I went to.”

After working at PV for 18 years and retiring on Dec. 20, DeMaio was offered an interim principal position by Hawthorne District Superintendent Richard A. Spirito for the 2020-21 school year after the previous principal moved on to another district according to Spirito. 

DeMaio said he felt a “loyalty” to help navigate the students since this fall would be their first time using computers and there are new additions being implemented to the school: a new STEM lab room, a Culinary arts room, and a Physics room.

“His knowledge and experience as a high school administrator will prove especially important during this very challenging time,” Spirito said. 

DeMaio said that amidst the pandemic, he and his wife decided to put a hold on their retirement plans and instead decided that DeMaio should accept the position. 

“With the state of the country right now, we can’t go anywhere so we decided – as a family – [that] we are not going anywhere, so [why not accept the interim principal position],” DeMaio said.

Similar to PV’s reopening plan, Hawthorne will also separate students into two cohorts in which Group A would come in on a Monday for the morning periods, one hour each, while Group B would work remotely. The following day, the two groups would alternate and this would go on for the rest of the week with an exception of Wednesday – everyone will be learning remotely. 

As a new member to the Hawthorne staff, DeMaio said that the virus-caused situation regarding school reopening is not “ideal” and it will be difficult establishing a connection with the students. 

“Hopefully we will have some class stuff going on where I can have an opportunity to meet some of my kids,” DeMaio said. “I’m hoping that by the second half of the year, we will be back in the school and I’ll have an opportunity to get involved and connect with students.”