Frederick named principal at new Lewes school
Longtime Cape educator Dave Frederick has been named the first principal at Frederick D. Thomas Middle School, set to open in fall 2024 in Lewes on the site of the former Shields Elementary.
“I was interested in trying something new, and I was lucky enough to be that person,” he said. “It’s not lost on me how special it is, and how fortunate I am to get this opportunity.”
Frederick will continue as Beacon Middle School principal through the end of this school year, then he will assume his new role beginning July 1.
A new Beacon principal will put their own mark on the school, he said.
“But, it’s about the kids,” he said. “It’s the kids’ school, that’s who it belongs to.”
During the 2023-24 school year, Frederick will collaborate on aspects of construction for the new school, including furnishing and outfitting the building. Once student attendance boundaries are set, Frederick said, work will begin to staff the school.
The new middle school will alleviate crowding at Mariner and Beacon middle schools, he said, where the leased classroom trailers will no longer be needed.
Taking the reins at the new school is special to Frederick for several reasons. He grew up on Second Street in Lewes, and either walked or rode his bike to school at Shields Elementary and the former Lewes Junior High. He graduated from Cape High.
“It’s pretty wild to be back in Lewes where I grew up,” he said. “I do have a sense of the history of the town, and I’ve seen all the changes.”
Frederick was pleased that another Lewes school alum, Bryan Williams, is the architect who designed the new middle school.
“That’s not lost on either one of us,” he said. “And his brother is the mayor. I do think it’s important to have respect for the City of Lewes itself.”
This respect was shown when the district named the school after its first African American administrator, Frederick said.
“I remember him as a young person,” Frederick said of Thomas. “I remember seeing him, and I remember when he died when I was in elementary school and all the adults were really sad.”
Frederick was childhood friends with Thomas’s grandson Raymond, who he hopes can return for the school’s opening reception.
Schools are an important part of the greater community, Frederick said.
“And our school system is a good part of it,” he said. “It’s important for people to have a quality education and experience.”
Frederick’s parents, Susan and Dave “Fredman” Frederick, retired from Cape High after long teaching careers. His daughter Anna teaches at Sussex Consortium.
Frederick began his career in 1995 as a Sussex Consortium paraeducator, and became a special education teacher at Rehoboth Elementary in 1998. He then taught at the former Lewes Middle School as well as Sussex Consortium.
In 2003, Frederick was named assistant principal at Beacon, then became principal in 2008. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Delaware, his master’s degree in special education from Wilmington University, and completed additional coursework in administration.