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This is an extended version of the story posted following the February 27 Board of Education special meeting.
The Board of Education voted unanimously during a special meeting on February 27 to name Dr Lorrie Rodrigue as Newtown’s superintendent of schools.
Dr Rodrigue has been serving as interim superintendent since last August, following the retirement of former Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph V. Erardi, Jr.
“I know you have what it takes to be the leader that Newtown needs right now,” said board Vice Chair Rebekah Harriman-Stites, who oversaw the superintendent search committee.
Board Chair Michelle Embree Ku said selecting a superintendent is one of the Board of Education’s most important jobs.
After the school board voted, Dr Rodrigue said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity.”
Board member Dan Delia was not present for the meeting due to a prior engagement, but he shared his support for the superintendent search committee’s decision through a letter read by Ms Ku at the meeting.
According to a release from the district on February 28, Dr Rodrigue’s appointment as superintendent of schools will be effective March 19.
Before returning to the district to serve as principal at Newtown High School in 2014, Dr Rodrigue first taught English in Newtown at both the middle school and high school. According to the district, she was one of the first Newtown teachers to receive National Board Certification, and she coordinated the district’s professional development effort in the 1990s. She served as assistant principal of NHS from 2000 to 2005. She has also served as middle school principal at Shepaug Valley School and high school principal at Pomperaug High School.
In October, Dr Rodrigue was honored along with other educators at the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) annual celebration of educational leadership at the Saint Clement’s Castle & Marina in Portland, Conn. Dr Rodrigue was announced as one of the CAS Principal of the Year awardees in April 2017, when she was still serving as the principal at NHS. According to CAS, a high school, middle school, and an elementary school principal are recognized with the Principal of the Year award annually, as reported by The Newtown Bee.
Dr Rodrigue has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, a Master of Arts degree in teaching foundations from Fairfield University, a sixth-year degree in educational leadership from Sacred Heart University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Northcentral University.
At the February 27 special meeting, Ms Ku thanked everyone who participated in the search for a superintendent, including members of the community who participated in a board-hosted forum and survey.
“Starting in September of 2017, when the superintendent search committee was formed, until now, many hours have been devoted to ensuring that we found a superintendent who could advance the district in concert with the community needs,” said Ms Ku.
Ms Harriman-Stites said her fellow board members focused on what is best for students in the district throughout the search committee process.
Board member Debbie Leidlein thanked Dr Rodrigue for “stepping up to the plate” to both serve as interim superintendent and again for the superintendent position “for good.” Board member John Vouros spoke to the feeling of a “team spirit” in Newtown’s schools and in the district overall.
“You will be joining our team so we are now eight members of this team working with you to make sure we are all achieving what is best for students. With great admiration I welcome you to our team,” said Mr Vouros. The Board of Education has seven members.
The Council Chambers at Newtown Municipal Center was nearly filled for the special meeting. District administrators and educators filled the seats along with some parents.
“Dr Rodrigue’s commitment to Newtown’s students and her passion for education are abundantly clear. The range of her leadership experience and vision for the district will serve us well, as will her familiarity with the community and district culture. We are excited to be working with Dr Rodrigue now with the long term in mind,” said Ms Ku in the district’s release.
Being selected as superintendent in Newtown, Dr Rodrigue said, is an honor.
“What makes this such a special district is how teachers care for their students, how staff collaborates and supports one another,” said Dr Rodrigue. “It is truly a district where innovative pathways for student learning will continue, I know, to provide students with opportunities for growth and achievement.”
Dr Rodrigue thanked all of the teachers who have worked with her and the administrative staff at NHS, specifically NHS Interim Principal David Roach.
“There is no greater reward than contributing to a district that invests in a quality education, embraces a vision for innovative programming, and continues to work hard to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students. I am eager to work with such a caring community, outstanding staff, and a highly talented leadership team in the years ahead,” Dr Rodrigue said in the release.