Colin Rigby ’97: A Passion for Education

Colin Rigby ’97: A Passion for Education

Colin Rigby’s passion for education, service and helping others was formed in the classrooms of Jesuit schools, including, of course, Fairfield University.

“Fairfield was an incredible experience for me. I joke sometimes that eight years of Jesuit education (he attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J.) prepared me well for a career in public education.”

After graduating Fairfield in May of 1997, Rigby began teaching high school mathematics at Rutherford High School in Rutherford, N.J.  He taught for nine years before becoming an assistant principal at Chatham Middle School in Chatham, N.J. After two years at Chatham, he became the principal of Cedar Drive Middle School in Colts Neck, N.J., where he has been for the past nine years.

“I had the opportunity to work alongside a number of strong educational leaders over the years whose differing approaches to pedagogy helped me shape my own leadership style; they taught me humility, pushed me to consistently be an advocate for young learners, to be collaborative, and to always make decisions in the best interest of students,” he said.

Rigby called “the art” of teaching and learning “fluid,” which makes every new school year exciting and challenging for him.  Developing new programs, assessing and adjusting existing practices, and working to create innovative ways to engage all learners is challenging work, he says, but “good work that demands much of teachers, administrators, parents and students.

“I have been, and continue to be, a believer that all students possess unique talents and our job as educators is to tap into these special qualities and create opportunities, in and out of the classroom, for them to grow both academically and socially.”

Students will learn, he said, at different rates and demonstrate strengths and gaps at different points in their academic journey.

“Overcoming obstacles and adversity is a key part of the maturation process, so we need to be cognizant of these hurdles and be sure to support our students as they move forward through their formative years.”

Navigating challenges is nothing new for adolescents. But, Rigby observes, “Students today face many of the same challenges that we faced growing up, with the complicating factor of an additional layer: the lens of social media. The reprieve of going home to your family after a tough day at school or after a disappointing loss on the playing field does not really exist anymore. Comments on social media from friends, teammates, or peers can add complexity to a given situation…another element for young people to respond to and handle as they grow up in a digital society.”

Thus, he said, parents and educators need to work with children and students to help them understand the benefits of social media, while sending a clear message that what they post or share is a reflection of who they are and that they should take that responsibility seriously.
Rigby lives with his wife, Kelly (Smith) Rigby ’96, and their two sons, Matthew, 13, and Nicholas, 11, in Fair Haven, N.J., located in Monmouth County. Kelly Rigby teaches pre-kindergarten in a neighboring town and their sons attend the middle school in Fair Haven.
He spoke of his years at Fairfield with fondness. “At Fairfield, I had the opportunity to learn from many talented, dedicated, and caring professors. From my education classes to my student teaching experience, I was surrounded by individuals who pushed me to ‘do it better,’ provided encouragement when I faced difficult challenges, and supported me as I prepared for the ‘real world.’”

Rigby recalled, “I met some incredible people throughout my four years at Fairfield and I am proud to share that I met some of my closest friends there who I am still close with today. I met my wife, Kelly, at school and we currently live two blocks from one of my college roommates. Our group of friends tries to get together a few times a year for dinner or a round a golf, but I know I can count on them if I, or my family, ever need anything.  Reflecting on my time at Fairfield, the friendships I made and the relationships I formed are something that I am forever grateful for…it is a point of great pride for me that some of the best people in my life continue to be Fairfield graduates.” ●F