WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci is recovering at Rhode Island Hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Speaking from his hospital room on Saturday, where he was waiting to be moved out of the intensive care unit, Ricci, who is 61, said he had decided to go to the doctor when he began experiencing problems with the left side of his body, in particular, his left hand. Ricci saw his doctor on June 11, and was admitted to the hospital the same day. The surgery took place on Thursday.
“They caught it early, and hopefully there’ll be a full recovery,” he said.
Ricci sent the following message to Chariho faculty and staff after his surgery:
“Sometimes life throws a curve ball at you. And some curves are bigger than others,” he wrote. “As I am a private person by nature, I’m having some difficulty finding exactly the right words now. But, I felt the need to include all of you in this.
“This morning, I underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. I’ve had some symptoms over the past few weeks involving left side fine motor coordination and after receiving messages from those in Chariho who know me well and were brave enough to tell me that something was just not right, I went to see my doctor on Monday. Things moved very quickly from there.
“I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to re-engage with everything that I love — Sam, my grandson, my wonderful and supportive wife and family, and with the work that I love doing with you, in service to the students of our community. I hope to see all of you real soon.”
School Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Stanley said she had learned on Monday that Ricci was in the hospital.
“It scares me,” she said. “I’ve never seen a better superintendent at the school, and I’ve been around since Chariho was built. But, my way of doing things is just always go to prayer. That’s my first resort and my last one.”
Assistant Superintendent Jane Daly will be assuming Ricci’s duties until he returns and will lead Tuesday’s School Committee meeting. Daly said counselors would be available for students on Monday.
“When they heard the news, staff expressed concern and well-wishes for Mr. Ricci’s speedy recovery,” she said. “However, we will to continue to provide students a fun and smooth end of the school year, as he would expect. Mr. Ricci has developed a strong central office and administrative team who will keep things running seamlessly until he returns. Guidance and support staff will be on hand to provide support to students.”
Stanley said she had planned to run for re-election to the School Committee, but would reconsider if Ricci is no longer superintendent.
“I’ve still got all my papers, but when I heard the news, I have until [June] 21, I think, to get my papers in, so I will think very strongly before I decide to do this,” she said.
Ricci said his doctor had told him that he would likely be able to return to work, although he isn’t sure when that will be. He added that his illness had been an unwelcome surprise.
“I’ll take it as it comes,” he said. “The doctor’s really optimistic that I can return.”
“I can’t believe it, you know? I was fine a couple of days ago.”