Originally posted at 4:48 p.m. Updated at 6:48 p.m. with quotes and additional biography info.
FRAMINGHAM – A Framingham elementary school vice principal will be the new assistant director of the district’s Multilingual Department, said Framingham Assistant Superintendent of Schools Inna London.
Harmony Grove Vice Principal Darlene Pugnali will be the new assistant director, taking over for Jennifer Labolita who left at the end of the school year for a position with the Revere Public Schools.
LaBolita, who is fluent in Spanish, was one of two finalists for the Framingham Public Schools Director of Multilingual Education, but Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay chose Aradhana Mudambi to lead the department in April 2021. She started July 1.
Mudambi was the Director of ESOL, Bilingual Education, and World Languages Department in the Windham Public Schools in Willimantic, Connecticut.
She replaced Gen Grieci who retired from the district after three-plus decades, as a a teacher, department chair, and for the last 11 years in the Central Office as the Assistant Director and finally the Director of the Office of Multilingual Education.
Prior to her current position, Mudambi was an Assistant Principal for a middle school in Windham and a Bilingual Teacher in Texas. Mudambi is a graduate of Rice University, has a Masters from the University of Houston and Harvard University, and received her Doctorate from Harvard University.
“I am so honored and excited to be offered the opportunity to serve in the role of Assistant Director of Multilingual Education,” said Pugnali. “I look forward to working closely with the Department of Multilingual Education (DME) team, and getting to know and supporting staff across the district servicing our multilingual learners. Serving students, families and staff at Harmony Grove Elementary as the Assistant Principal for the past three years was a wonderful and rewarding experience. I am thrilled to be in a position to broaden my impact on our multilingual programs throughout the city of Framingham.”
Pugnali came to what was Wilson Elementary School in June of 2018.
Prior to Framingham she was the Assistant Director (K-5) at the International Charter School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Pugnali’s professional and educational journey has been extensive and includes a depth of understanding of public and independent school systems.
She has served as an ESL teacher and coordinator, curriculum and instruction supervisor overseeing PK-12 ESOL & World Language programs at the district-level, teacher trainer, consultant, and school-based assistant principal and principal.
Her many years of experience in education include working in urban public schools and independent charter schools in the United States, as well as in independent American/International schools in Brazil and Mexico.
She holds undergraduate degrees in Teaching Portuguese and English as a Second Language (ESL), and Pedagogy from Faculdades Adamantinenses Integradas (FAI) in Brazil. She earned her Master of Arts in International Education from Framingham State University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership at Lesley University.
Pugnali said she “is a daughter of immigrants from Brazil and is bilingual in Portuguese and English.”
While she was born and raised in the U.S. she had the opportunity to move to Brazil at the age of 12 with her family, and attended middle school, high school and college there returning to the U.S. as an adult
Through this experience she said she “developed a passion for multilingual and multicultural education.”
Having grown up in between two cultures and two languages, she said she “developed a deep personal understanding of the needs of immigrant students and their families from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.”
In the Framingham Public Schools, there are more than 70 languages spoken. The district has two-way programs in both Spanish and Portuguese.
According to the state, 48.4% of the students in the district English is not their first language. The state average is 23.4%.
In Framingham Public Schools, 26.2% of the students are English Language Learners (ELL), compared to 10.5% for the state average.