Bennett Named Thalberg Elementary School Principal in Southington

Thalberg Elementary, South End Elementary, Hatton Elementary and Kennedy Middle Schools will see new leaders in place come September.

The Southington Board of Education unanimously appointed three new principals Thursday night who will begin their new jobs July 1, 2012.

Three positions needed to be filled following retirements. Thalberg Elementary Principal Beecher LaJoie and Kennedy Middle School Principal Angelo Campagnano both recently announced their retirements. Roberta McAloon, principal at , is also retiring.

Megan L. Bennett is leaving her position as principal at West Hill Elementary in Rocky Hill and was hired for . Bennett has worked three years as a principal and has taught since 2000.

"I like the town of Southington. Throughout the interview process a welcoming feeling was unnmistakable," said Bennett.

South End Elementary Principal Sally Kamerbeek will move over to become Hatton Elementary's principal following McAloon's retirement. James E. Quinn of West Hartford will replace Kamerbeek at South End. Quinn is leaving the Meriden Public School System, where he served as principal for Thomas Hooker Elementary since 2008. Quinn previously worked in Southington as the assistant principal at Derynoski Elementary for five years from 2003-08. Before coming to Southington, Quinn worked at Gov. William Pitkin School in East Hartford as an Elementary Head Teacher. 

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Steven G. Madancy is the new principal of and has worked in a principal capacity for seven years in the Milford School district, first at Orange Avenue Elementary from 2005-2010 and at Pumpkin Delight Elementary from June, 2010 to present. Additionally from 1997 - 2004 Madancy worked in the Wallingford Public School system. 

The two elementary school principal positions will each pay $123,121 and the middle school positon pays $132,675 respectively.

The selected three candidates were chosen from hundreds of applicants.

"Close to ninety resumes were reviewed by the Board Of Education, a commmittee made up of parents and administrators," said Frank Pepe, Principal of DePaolo Middle School. The hiring decision came after the Board of Education interviewed each of the finalists over two days.  

Also Thursday, two parents from different households addressed the board with comments that the junior prom dress code caused their child some distress.

Superintendent Joseph V Erardi, Jr. responded, "There was enough time and notice for students to bring their dress and/or questions to the administration if they were not sure about anything and no one was denied entrance." 

Assistant Superintendent Karen Smith invited 8th- and 9th-grade teachers to speak about a curriculum initiative "Transition Talks." Student skills were assessed for strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a universal rubric that would assist in an easier transition as students moved up in grades.

Southington High School English Department Chair Regina Hackett said midterms and final tests are a big deal for 9th-graders, and sharing exams between grades may help to to lessen transition anxiety. 

"We are working on 'vertical learning' style that would encompass including the grade below where a teacher is assigned," said Smith. The idea is being explored in a professional development capacity with positive results that included the teachers themselves taking exams. Smith referred to the Common Core Standards as a goal to set.  

Nya Welinsky, School Lunch Director, spoke of new dietary requirements that will be implemented for the 2012-13 school year based upon the Health Hunger Free Act of 2010 and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public. 

"The biggest challenges are to make healthier foods appealing so as to discourage plate waste," said Welinsky. "To accomplish that, we'll work with a chef for recipe modification through taste-testing and meal preparation to gain the student acceptance factor. We'll also work with a marketing plan."

Five key foods will be the aim of school menus — milk, fruits, vegetables, meats and whole grains. A 25-cent increase to lunch prices throughout all levels of the school district will be implemented begining 2012-13 school year. 

The last day of school will be June 19, 2012, and graduation will be held rain or shine.


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