Old Lyme - In his first three months as the superintendent of schools for Regional District 18, Ian Neviaser saw the space outside of the high school begin to develop into a new baseball field.
The solitary piles of dirt that stood there on his first day soon were accompanied by a scoreboard, fence, trees and bleachers. Lyme-Old Lyme High School's renovation also features improvements to the gym, auditorium, commons area, classrooms and wireless technology.
The new superintendent said he is also excited about the revamped mathematics programs, updated classroom technology and a new evaluation system for the English Language Arts curriculum.
Neviaser, quick to credit the school community and construction staff for the transformations, also has his own goals: "On a personal level, as an educator, I want to make sure every student that graduates from Lyme-Old Lyme High School has the skills to be successful in the 21st century," he said in an interview in his office last week.
Neviaser arrived at District 18 from an assistant superintendent post at the Region 4 District in Chester, Deep River and Essex. He formerly served as the principal at Valley Regional High School, assistant principal at Guilford High School and high school social studies teacher in Guilford and New Haven.
Born in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington, he credits his wife, Erin, an educator, for inspiring him to pursue a career in education.
Neviaser is the father of three children: Ian, 12, Mackenzie, 10, and Madison, 8. He coaches his son's football team and attends his daughters' tennis and soccer matches. "Hopefully, they're learning the values of sportsmanship," he said.
The solid reputation of Lyme-Old Lyme's public schools, as well as his familiarity with the area and community members, drew Neviaser to the superintendent position, he said.
To learn about his new school district, Neviaser said, he has spent much time listening. He has heard the staff express again and again a commitment to students and a "kids first" attitude.
He said having high standards is a value he brings with him to the job. "We want to see all of our students be successful," he said.
Changes to the district
The district began the 2012-13 school year with "smart boards" in every second- through 12th-grade classroom. The new boards, for which the Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation and the Board of Education secured funding, have been helpful as teachers implement a new mathematics curriculum to comply with the state's core standards, Neviaser said.
He said among the biggest changes facing the district are aligning the curriculum with Common Core State Standards, which the state is revising, and decreasing enrollment.
The district implemented new technology for evaluating its English Language Arts curriculum, a process resulting from the state's common core standards.
"It's absolutely amazing, and I think it's something you'll see other districts model in the future," he said, regarding the program set up before his arrival.
Neviaser stressed that he hopes community members will feel comfortable coming into his office to talk with him.
"My door is always open," he said.