Family, love of teaching prompt change to Auburn

By Citizen Chronicle Staff

A long-term leader in the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District will soon leave for a new position at Auburn Middle School. Gregg Desto, district superintendent, sent a letter April 11 to students and families to announce the news.

“The speed which news travels today, it is likely that you have already heard that this will be my last year as superintendent of the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District,” he began in the letter.

Desto said he decided to make the change so he could spend more time with his family, focus on his health and work directly with students once again. Desto has been superintendent for four years.

“This really has been a personal life choice for me,” Desto said in an interview with The Citizen Chronicle. “I have to take a step back at this stage of life with my family and spend more time in these critical years as my son is growing up.”

Desto is married and has a 10-year-old son and a 17-year-old stepson.

In his letter to the community, he encourages others to do what makes them happy, but said he needed “to take my own advice and get back to working more directly with kids, improving my health and, most importantly, being more present for my family.”

Desto began his career as a teacher in Worcester before becoming an assistant principal at Charlton Middle School and then a principal at Dudley Middle School. He was promoted to superintendent in 2014. This next career change marks his return to the middle school environment, where he has spent the majority of his career.

“I love this job. It really has been an unbelievable privilege,” Desto said, reflecting on the superintendent position.

“It is really difficult to leave such a great place. It is really rare in this business that you leave with such love for the place you are leaving,” he said. “To this point, it has been one of the best jobs I have ever had, but I also have to checker that by saying that I was surrounded by great people who made it a wonderful experience.”

Desto worked over several years with others in the communities to plan the proposal for this month’s Propostion 2 ½ override vote. The override was approved in both Dudley and Charlton, bringing an additional $3 million into the school system. Desto said he considered this an accomplishment that will enrich the district.

“It was a lot of work. It had been on the radar for a long time, but we shifted it into fifth gear about 18 months ago. The teachers, administration and students got together to discuss what was needed. People came together like no other time in recent history,” Desto said in the interview.

“We hired an expert to see what number would be needed going forward. We wanted research on what was the right amount to sustain the school system, but not so much as to put citizens at a disadvantage.

“We tried to keep citizens informed throughout the process. People in these towns are very smart and well-informed. They can make the right choice with good information, and that’s what we were aiming for, to give them good information and let them decide,” he said.

Desto will officially start at his new position July 1, the start of the fiscal 2019 and “the symbolic start of the school year.”

Desto, who lives in Charlton but says his “backyard is almost in Dudley,” said he hopes to contribute to the community and the school district in the future.

In his letter to Dudley-Charlton students and families, Desto assured “that until the end of the school year, and beyond that if necessary, I will continue to give our district my full attention and to work with the school committee to find the very best possible person to replace me and continue the pursuit of excellence that has been our trademark for over 40 years.

“I am still a resident and parent,” he said, “and I look forward to contributing more in the future to this community, whatever form that takes.”

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