An elementary school principal from Springfield has been chosen to be the next principal at the Oak Bluffs School.

After an exhaustive search that boiled down to two candidates, on Thursday morning Dr. John Rizzo was announced as the choice by Matthew D’Andrea, incoming Vineyard schools superintendent.

Mr. Rizzo will replace former principal Richard Smith, who was recently promoted to the position of assistant superintendent. The change takes place August 1, when Mr. Rizzo will take over officially as principal.

Reached by telephone Thursday morning, Mr. Rizzo said he looks forward to the new challenge, and spoke about building support and trust among a strong pyramid of students, teachers and parents. “You have to have all the players in sync. Parents, teachers, students all working together,” he said. “I always cringe when a leader says they’re not going to do anything for the first year or two months. That’s not me. I want to listen. More than anything, I think that’s most important.”

He previously served as the head of school at St. Theresa School in Honolulu, Hawaii, before moving to serve as principal at the Milton Bradley School in Springfield. He has a master’s degree in education from Westfield State College and received his doctorate of education in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts.

Mr. Rizzo has worked in education for decades, serving as a teacher, football coach, principal and school administrator in a variety of school settings from rural districts to urban schools.

At a recent meeting with Oak Bluffs parents, he emphasized a “child first” teaching philosophy and a focus on improving the arts and athletics alongside academics, joking that he would just as soon see a Broadway show as go to a football game. “Dr. Rizzo’s child first philosophy made him the favorite,” Mr. D’Andrea said in a press release. Mr. D’Andrea could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Rizzo was selected following a search process that involved parents, staff and the search committee, along with site visits on both sides. Mr. Rizzo came to the Vineyard early this month after being named a finalist, and Mr. D’Andrea and Mr. Smith also visited the Milton Bradley School.

In coming to Oak Bluffs, the new principal spoke about building institutional trust among teachers, staff and the community members to ensure that school operations run smoothly and effectively under his watch. This includes everything from checking on teacher progress in the classrooms to managing building maintenance.

“I’ve seen how not to do it,” he told a recent meeting of parents. “But I’ve seen how effective trust can be if done right.”

Mr. Rizzo will move to the Vineyard with his wife, who has been living in Honolulu. He said the possibility of being able to live with his wife on the Vineyard was a factor that drew him to the position. But his enthusiasm for education has been formed throughout his years of experience in various positions and places, along with a passion for schooling that he claims has stuck with him since he was first in the classroom.

“Never ever underestimate children,” he said on Thursday. “That’s the difference between a good educator and a great educator. That’s how you teach that hidden potential. You need to love [the kids] enough to make sure they have the best faculty, the best staff, the best resources to succeed.”