Principal Tremaglio moving on to new role in Trumbull education

There is no such thing as a eight-hour workday for Dr. Robert Tremaglio, principal of Trumbull High School.

His day starts before 6 a.m. and typically ends late in the evening, but the hard work has paid off. His staff, both those who are longtime teachers and those who are newer to the school, describe him as inspiring, always with an open door, and focused on creating a happy place to teach and learn. His students welcome him with smiles and share stories in the hallway.

“It’s the hardest and most challenging job I’ve ever had in my life,” Tremaglio said. “I’ve tried to put my heart and soul into campus life.”

Tremaglio isn’t leaving Trumbull education completely, but he will be stepping down as high school principal at the end of this year. When the opportunity arose to become director of the Agriscience and Biotechnology Center, he decided it was the right move and the part-time position would allow him more time to pursue other areas of education.

“He’s been a big asset to this school, especially during all this construction,” Merrill Galer, a retired teacher who now helps with the schools driver education program, said.

Fellow retiree George Romero agreed, pointing out improvements in test scores and the overall environment.

Seven of Tremaglio’s eight years have been during school construction. He said staff, students and the public have helped him work through it.

“It’s been a tremendous disruption,” he said. “But we’ve managed to still excel, despite temporary setbacks.”

When asked what accomplishments he is proud of in the last eight years, the list is long. He mentions Early College Experience courses offered through UConn. The program continues to grow.

“Students get credit here at Trumbull High and at UConn and our teachers become adjunct professors at UConn,” he said.

He also cites the transformation of the library into a library media center, incorporating technology and a literacy center.

Under his leadership, freshmen must take “Freshman Fundamentals” which includes management and organizational skills training. Seniors have a capstone project, where they must go out into the community to research a local issue.

Tremaglio, who received his doctorate degree in business and public management, said the school is run on a business model with an educational focus.

He offers an entrepreneurship course, where students create a business plan, including a market analysis and financial plan.

Schools are a place for growth, he says, and Tremaglio has helped create an environment for that to happen. Students have reflection days mid-semester, in order to review their progress with teachers and discuss potential improvement moving forward.

He also points to some of the programs in Trumbull that have been recognized at the state and federal level, including We the People, Mock Trial, the growth of the theater program, and several more.

It comes down to climate, Tremaglio said, and climate can be created even in the small details.

“It seems like a silly thing, but that eagle at the front entrance, that came from Villanova University,” Tremaglio said of a school mascot that stands near the front of the school. “I drove down there six or seven years ago and put it in the back of my car. I had our art department paint it.”

Another eagle in the media center came from Stamford. Those mascots send an important message, he said.

“When students see you’re invested in the enterprise, they become invested,” he said.

While other school districts have cut high school classes in areas like family consumer science, shop and ceramics, Trumbull High has not.

“The superintendent and the board [Board of Education] have been a big support of a comprehensive education,” he said. “We believe in the whole child and that everyone needs a balanced life.”

Tremaglio says he owes his staff and students a great deal, as well as parents, who donate time and effort.

“You can lead the parade but if no one is behind you, there is no music,” he said.