Dr. Arnold “Arnie” Adreani, who spent three decades as a principal in the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), died at the age of 83 on June 19.
He was hired by the district in 1970, eventually serving as principal of Sierra Enterprise and Cosumnes River elementary schools before moving to Joseph Kerr Middle School in Elk Grove. Kerr was his home for 26 years until his retirement in 2000. Kerr students fondly referred to him as “Dr. A.”
After stepping away from that role, Adreani, in a letter to the Citizen’s editor, wrote that he would continue to participate in programs that benefit children and the community. He soon served as a field supervisor for the Principal Leadership Institute of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.
In honor of his service to the EGUSD, Arnold Adreani Elementary School was named after him in 2005.
Furthering his commitment to education, Adreani was an active member of the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation for 28 years. He served as president and vice president of that nonprofit that provides scholarships for high school students across the Elk Grove school district.
The native of East Boston, Massachusetts earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and biology at Boston University in 1958. He also earned a master’s degree in science and philosophy from there three years later.
While at Boston University, Adreani participated in four years of Army ROTC, beginning in 1954, followed by six years as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve before his honorable discharge.
Adreani completed the requirements for a certificate of advanced graduate study in education administration from Boston University in 1966, and earned his doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Nova University.
He began his distinguished career in education, teaching in Massachusetts and serving as a principal of schools in New Hampshire.
Adreani and Marcia, his wife of nearly 53 years, were married in Lynnfield, Massachusetts on July 1, 1967. Together, they had three children: Andrew, Michael, and Mia. He was also a grandfather of six grandchildren.
His family collectively said that Adreani desired to move to California due to its warm weather.
“It was his California dream,” they said.
The Adreanis also noted that he was proud of his community.
“He took pride in that he was able to create an environment where people could succeed, that was inclusive and fair,” the family said in a statement. “Whatever background you came from, he was a champion for those who had the odds stacked against them. He had a very high success rate of turning many kids’ lives around.”
Adreani was also known for bringing his family on summertime traveling and camping trips and following his favorite basketball team, the Boston Celtics. He also enjoyed keeping fit by swimming, working out in a gym, and playing basketball and racquetball.
Elizabeth Pinkerton, a retired Elk Grove educator and Citizen columnist, described Adreani as a “wonderful community person and a wonderful educator.”
“He left an imprint on many young people, as well as other people in the community,” she said. “He will be greatly missed, especially by the people at his school and the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation.”
John Shook, president of the foundation, mentioned that Adreani positively impacted the lives of many people.
“He was so well known and loved in the community,” he said. “Him and I used to do a lot of college career nights with the school district, and parents would come in and want to introduce their child that’s in high school to the middle school principal (Adreani), in which they loved and how much of an impact (he) made.”
Shook also shared a story about Adreani that exemplified his pride in the academic success of Kerr’s students.
“From what I understand, Arnie used to write a personal note on the back of each diploma for the kids that were graduating out of his middle school,” he said. “He just made such an impact on the lives of the kids at the middle school and in the Elk Grove area.”
Zack Cheney, Kerr’s principal, referred to Adreani as a “beloved member of our school community.”
“(Adreani) would show up on campus years after his retirement and find a chair in my office to chat with me about the state of affairs at Kerr,” he said. “He always arrived unannounced, walked into my office with a big smile on his face, shook my hand, took a seat across from me, and asked me to update him on the ‘happenings’ at Kerr.”
Cheney also commented on Adreani’s interaction with his students, noting that he knew them on a personal level.
“(Adreani) found time to truly understand (the students),” he said.
EGUSD Superintendent Christopher Hoffman described the legacy that Adreani left behind.
“Dr. Arnold Adreani lead with an everlasting positive impact on literally thousands of students,” he said. “Dr. A., as we know and will remember him, knew how to connect kids to school and was famous for making the simplest gestures of kindness.”
Hoffman also recalled Adreani’s effort to learn the name of every student, his competitiveness as a basketball player at a local health club, and his support of Kerr athletics.
He additionally referred to him as a man “who will always be revered and remembered in our hearts and minds.”
Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Andreanis will announce plans for his memorial of life celebration in the future.
In lieu of flowers, the family said that memorial contributions may be made in Adreani’s name to the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation, the Adreani Family Scholarship, P.O. Box 2021, Elk Grove, CA 95624, or Elk Grove Food Bank Services.