Newtown High School staff were notified on Tuesday, April 30, that NHS Assistant Principal Jason Hiruo will take on the duties of principal/director of the Area Cooperative Educational Services’ Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) in New Haven.
“And that e-mail was pretty hard for me to write,” said Mr Hiruo on Friday, May 3.
While Mr Hiruo said he is excited for the next step in his career, he will also have many people to miss in Newtown.
“As I told the staff,” he said, “I’m truly excited, but I am really heavy-hearted in leaving. Because the Newtown schools, especially Newtown High School, has become a true family to me. I call it my school family.”
Mr Hiruo first came to NHS in 2000 and taught English for four years. He then spent a year as the high school’s dean of students before becoming an assistant principal in his sixth year at the school.
The Newtown community has also been amazing to work with, said Mr Hiruo, who has also served as the project coordinator for the district’s Newtown International Center for Education (NICE), and has been active with the initiative since its inception.
“In leaving the district and the community, I truly am heavy-hearted, in that sense, but at the same time I’m excited because going to ECA is exactly what my background is in writing and in music,” said Mr Hiruo. “So it is truly just a phenomenal opportunity.”
ECA is one of the Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) institutions that “improve public education through high quality, cost-effective programs and services,” according to its website, www.aces.org. ACES is the Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) for 25 school districts in south central Connecticut.
ECA is a magnet school, and each school year a number of Newtown students attend the school. Mr Hiruo said he has heard from Newtown residents in the past who have expressed excitement for attending ECA, and, after seeing the school himself, he said that was easy to understand.
“It’s really an incredible environment, where students get to really further develop their skills and creativity in the arts,” said Mr Hiruo. “That, for me, was really a major selling point.”
With his last day in the district set for June 30, Mr Hiruo said the NICE team members have been working together to make sure all projects in the program move forward seamlessly. This summer, Mr Hiruo said he will be conducting a retreat for all NICE team members, student ambassadors in the program, and members of the NICE Parent Community Organization (NICE PCO) to determine responsibilities and goals for next year.
“There may be an opportunity where the role of the director’s position may not be an administrator,” Mr Hiruo said. “It may be someone on staff.”
Mr Hiruo also said he will stay in touch with the NICE team throughout the summer and throughout the next school year.
While Mr Hiruo said he is bringing his background in the arts, his administrative experience, and his global experience to ECA and ACES, “I will make sure I am still supporting Newtown to support this position, of the assistant principal, and so the program of NICE continues to flourish.”
ECA is a gifted and talented honors level school of more than 300 students, Mr Hiruo said, and all teachers at the school are artists.
Mr Hiruo said he will miss working with the Newtown and school communities most after leaving his position.
“In my job as assistant principal, I feel very fortunate, because I’ve been able to work with every possible stakeholder there is in the district,” said Mr Hiruo, explaining that ranges from students to business owners in the community. “That’s really been the most fulfilling part of my job, the outreach and ability to work with everybody. I think that is the greatest piece that I will miss.”
While Mr Hiruo said he will miss working with everyone in the district on a daily basis, he also said he plans to be connected through his new placement.
Along with Mr Hiruo’s position at the high school, the school district has two interim principal positions to fill with permanent placements for Sandy Hook Elementary School and at Reed Intermediate School, and Newtown Middle School Principal Diane Sherlock is set to retire at the conclusion of this school year.
On Monday, May 6, Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed assumed his duties, following Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson’s last active day on Friday, May 3. The Board of Education is continuing its search for a permanent superintendent.