William J. Niemeyer Selected as Middletown’s New School Superintendent

William J. Niemeyer has been named the new superintendent of the Middletown school district.

The announcement came during a meeting Monday night in the Oliphant administration building, where Niemeyer — the current principal at Gaudet Middle School — was selected by the School Committee following a nationwide search.

School Committee Chairperson Theresa Spengler said Niemeyer checked all the right boxes and will be an excellent fit for the district, its students, parents, educators and the community.

Niemeyer’s first day at his new job is July 1, when he’ll replace Rosemarie K. Kraeger, who has served as the Middletown school superintendent for more than 26 years.

“I know we’re all very proud of this announcement and what it means for our schools and the town,” Spengler said. “The School Committee was looking for a superintendent who is going to bring us to the next level of academic achievement and success.

“Someone with strong leadership capabilities and works well with others. We also wanted someone who is dedicated to Middletown, has a strong academic foundation and appreciates and understands our military community. Mr. Niemeyer is the right person to carry on our ‘Islander’ traditions and at the same time bring in a fresh innovative perspective to move Middletown forward.”

At the same time, Spengler expressed genuine thanks and appreciation for Kraeger and all she’s helped accomplish under her tenure.

“Whether it was cementing Middletown as a quality district academically, to helping win approval for the new middle-high school, to creating the respected career pathways program at Middletown High, to helping the schools be a friendly stop for military students, Mrs. Kraeger has successful lead our district into the 21st century of teaching and learning and has done and seen it all,” Spengler said.

“Mrs. Kraeger was an amazing teacher, principal, and superintendent and did more for our students and our schools than anyone will ever know,” Spengler added. “She always put students first and focused on improving education for our children. I think I speak for all of us when I say she deserves a really big ‘Thank you!’ for everything she has done for Middletown and for her unwavering dedication and commitment to the children of our district the past 46 years. We wish her well in her retirement and her future endeavors.”

Shortly after Kraeger’s retirement went public in August 2023, the school board brought in the New England School Development Council to assist with the superintendent search.

The Marlborough, Massachusetts group launched a nationwide search and also helped solicit feedback from students, educators, residents and businesspeople about what qualities they’d like to see in a new superintendent.

Spengler said that generated 18 applicants for the position, a number narrowed to seven by the Superintendent Search Committee. The Search Committee of eleven members included parents, educators, administrators, community members, and business leaders from Middletown.

After hours of interviews and careful consideration, the search board put forward a list of three finalists to the School Committee. They conducted in-depth interviews with each, with Niemeyer emerging as the top option.

“We want to thank everyone who applied and there were so many quality applicants,” Spengler said. “We had people from around the country wanting to be our next superintendent, but saying that, I think we all feel lucky to have selected Billy as our next superintendent.”

Niemeyer — known as “Billy” by most across the community — was hired to take over at Gaudet in the summer of 2021 following the departure of Principal Donna Chelf. Married to his wife Elizabeth with two sons, Niemeyer has a strong, varied educational background that will serve him well in a diverse community like Middletown.

Almost from the moment he walked through the front door, Niemeyer established himself as a friendly force throughout the upper Aquidneck Avenue grade 6-8 school.

Whether it was working collaboratively through issues with students and parents to being an outspoken advocate for inclusive education in each classroom, Niemeyer quickly found allies in every part of his building — and beyond — with his collaborative, team-building approach.

Coming from Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School in Providence, Niemeyer spoke of his desire to help all students, not just those who were struggling or high achievers. Before working as principal at Spaziano Elementary, Niemeyer was assistant principal at Central High School in Providence, showing his versatility across grade levels.

He also talked about the impact education had on his life, particularly his sophomore English teacher Ken Keener and the importance of reading and thinking critically.

“He wasn’t like other teachers,” said Niemeyer, whose last name is pronounced Knee-My-Err. “Up to that point, I only read what I had to read for school, but Mr. Keener showed me how much fun reading can truly be and that just opened so many doors for me. He got me to think in a way I never had before.”

Pushing both fun and accomplishments at Gaudet, Niemeyer has never hesitated to help make the school — and district — look its best. This ranged from guiding tours of Gaudet to giving residents and businesspeople a behind the scenes look at the school, to encouraging fundraisers and community outreach work; Niemeyer has done everything possible to help make “Gaudet Great!”

In addition to a familiar face across his school and during lunch periods, Niemeyer frequently sits in on classes to observe what’s happening at Gaudet, both for students and teachers.

Importantly, he also is a member of the School Building Committee, the group guiding the effort to build a new middle-high school just north of the existing Gaudet building and remake Middletown High and Forest Avenue School buildings into refreshed early learning centers.

Spengler said Niemeyer will finish the current school year and tie up any lose ends at Gaudet before taking over the top job with the Middletown schools. She said the Gaudet principal position will be advertised, likely as soon as this week.

In the meantime, Spengler said she and the rest of the School Committee were ready to embrace the change in store over the next few months and looked forward to helping make Middletown schools the best they could be.

“All of this is very exciting,” Spengler said. “We have a strong district and I know we all want to make it even better. That’s our goal and Mr. Niemeyer’s goal. There are so many good things happening here in Middletown and with Mr. Niemeyer at the helm we are confident he is going to continue to build on those and keep our momentum moving in the right direction.”




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!