Head of School Letter
Welcome to Fisher Island Day School (FIDS). I hope that you will find the information contained within our website to be both helpful and informative in introducing you to the strengths and assets of our exemplary school.
Our dynamic curriculum aims to develop each student’s unique potential by striving to educate the whole child in mind, body, and spirit. We are extremely proud of FIDS’s outstanding learning environment, which is characterized by academic rigor, small class sizes, differentiated instruction, an accomplished and caring faculty, and a warm family atmosphere. Fisher Island Day School is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools.
Exceptional teachers are the heart of the Fisher Island Day School community with over 70% of our faculty holding graduate degrees. The faculty is one of the school’s greatest strengths, and the success of our students is testimony to the teaching and learning that are part of the everyday curriculum. The culture of respect for each child’s abilities and the interest the faculty demonstrates in helping each child succeed are a vital part of the culture of the school.
The school’s leadership team values professional development and offers abundant opportunities for teacher growth. While striving for excellence, teachers recognize that they are doing more than conveying knowledge. They are instilling the qualities of strength of character, integrity, leadership, generosity, and compassion for others.
Please feel free to contact us directly should you have any questions regarding the many advantages of having your child become a part of the Fisher Island Day School community.
Head of School
Head of School Bio
Mr. Bell had a distinguished career in education where he served in a variety of capacities ranging from classroom teacher to assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public School, where he was responsible for the implementation of the district’s choice programs, magnet programs, and charter schools. During that time, Mr. Bell served as an advisor to and grant reviewer for the United States and the Florida Departments of Education—as well as provided testimony to the United States Senate on school choice. In addition, Mr. Bell served for many years as a commission member on the Florida Charter School Appeal Commission. Mr. Bell’s national profile also includes opportunities as a conference presenter throughout the country.
Subsequent to his tenure with the Miami-Dade school system, Mr. Bell served: as Program Director at Nova Southeastern University’s National Institute for Educational Options; on the Board of Trustees of Fisher Island Day School; and as Chair of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Advisory Council. Currently, Mr. Bell serves as President & Board Chair of the Miami-Dade Foundation for Educational Innovation, which operates the Academy for International Education Charter School. Prior to assuming the role of Head of School in August 2014, Mr. Bell served in the staff position of Assistant Head of School/Director of Admissions at Fisher Island Day School from July 2011 through July 2014. In addition, Mr. Bell served on FIDS’s Board of Trustees from 2009 until he joined the school’s administration in July 2011.
Through volunteerism, Mr. Bell supports the development of student achievement and literary talent vis-à-vis the implementation of creative writing programs for the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition. In 2010, Mr. Bell was awarded a three-year Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to further his creative writing initiatives for our community’s emerging writers.
Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Mr. Bell attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Florida International University, a Master of Science degree in Reading Education from Nova Southeastern University, and a Specialist in Education degree in Computer Science from Barry University. He is also fully credentialed as a school leader by the Florida Department of Education. Mr. Bell enjoys expanding his commitment to education through his role as Head of School at Fisher Island Day School community.
Follow Mr. Bell on Twitter @FIDSHOS
- Assistant Head of School
- Head of School, (effective July 1, 2022)
Dana Vignale has taught and worked in a leadership role in top-tier independent, magnet, charter, and traditional public schools for over 20 years, ultimately gleaning best practices in educational programming and school operations. Her experience, coupled with her Master of Education degree in Private School Leadership — from the prestigious Kingenstein program at Teacher College, Columbia University — has provided her with the in-depth knowledge to successfully lead, manage, and grow top-tier schools.
As a life-long educator who never veered from this path, Ms. Vignale earned both her Bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees in Secondary English Education from Florida International University. Her career began at South Miami Senior High as an Advanced Placement Literature and Language teacher; yet, her sense of adventure took her to an elite independent school in Puerto Rico – The Baldwin School. After three years of teaching middle and high school language arts and writing, her headmaster encouraged her to pursue a second Master’s degree in private-school leadership at Teachers College. After earning her degree, Ms. Vignale stayed in New York City to help found a math, science, and engineering secondary school on the Upper West Side – a selective, public school that partnered with Columbia University. After three years, Ms. Vignale returned to Miami, her home for most of her life and served as a charter school principal until she was brought back to Miami-Dade County Public Schools to help implement the Cambridge Programs and lead admissions at MAST Academy – Key Biscayne. Once these programs were up and running, Ms. Vignale became an Executive Director in the Office of School Choice, where she provided curricular and back-office support to a small network of district-managed charter schools. Prior to coming to Fisher Island Day School, Ms. Vignale was the Director of Finance and Human Resources for a large network of charter schools, serving over 8,300 students and 900 employees.
These unique and diverse roles provided her with a truly deep and robust understanding and intuition of every aspect of overseeing a successful school. Ms. Vignale is fully dedicated to:
- fostering greatness in teaching and learning;
- creating a school climate that is a joyful and mindful place—a place where students, families, faculty, and staff are excited to come, work hard, and celebrate success;
- strategically focusing on continuous improvement;
- building and empowering talented and committed teams of great minds;
- ensuring efficient and fiscally sound school operations;
- striving to ensure the school has the resources it needs to achieve its mission.
- nurturing relationships with every stakeholder; and
- cultivating the full potential of every student through courage, perseverance, and a journey of shared learning experiences that build upon each other by prioritizing inquiry, creation, and reflection.
Ms. Vignale is thrilled to join Fisher Island Day School — a place that truly is the quintessential educational option for families — as the Assistant Head of School. Welcome Dana!
- Director of Admissions/ Development
Mary Reiling joined FIDS’s staff in 2015, having completed a nine-year tenure at The Frances Xavier Warde School in Chicago. As an enthusiastic and successful fundraiser, she is tireless in her efforts to augment operational funding in support of the mission and goals of the school. Mary has been able to mobilize legions of volunteers for events and is inclusive in her approach to invite people to participate at whatever financial level that is most appropriate.
Mary has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and two Master’s degrees. She has also engaged in further professional development with the Center for Non-profit Management at Northwestern University.
The Fisher Island Day School Board of Trustees is comprised of Fisher Island Club equity members and noted educators from the community at large. The Board of Trustees, our school leadership team, faculty, and families consistently maintain enthusiasm for what Fisher Island Day School has been and what it is yet to become. Our stable leadership, which is strong and visionary, continually looks for ways to enhance and improve what has been created and sustained in our brief history.
Jana P. Neff, President & Board Chair
Vera A. Hirsh, Vice President & Secretary
Brian R. Neff, Treasurer
James L. Ferraro
Donald S. MacKenzie
Laurie B. Melnick
Katherine A. Parsons
Ernest M. Rudyak