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WESTBROOK - After a six-year run in Westbrook, Superintendent of Schools Pat Charles last week announced she was chosen to be Middletown's next superintendent of schools. This career move returns Charles to the school district in which her school leadership career developed through a series of leadership posts she held, including school principal.
"I look forward to returning to lead the district where I was for 17 years and to work with students, staff, and community," said Charles in a written statement. "While I look forward to this new challenge, it has been an honor to work on behalf of the children and families of Westbrook for the past six years."
Under the terms of her contract with the Westbrook Board of Education, Charles would continue for the next 90 days in her Westbrook post.
"We have been fortunate to have had Dr. Charles in our district and thank her for her significant contributions to our schools and community," said Board of Education (BOE) Chairman Maureen Westbrook. "She has truly made a difference in her time in our district. She got us to develop and focus on the mission of the district and ensure that decisions made by the board, faculty, and staff were made in the best interests of the students in the district."
Westbrook highlighted a number of major district milestones from Charles's tenure. Retirement of Principal Phil House led to the hiring of a strong new middle school principal, Cori-Ann DiMaggio. Recognition of the need to better coordinate and direct special education services led to the creation of a new position of district director of special services, a post now filled by Jeff Newton. A new business manager, Lesley Wysocki, was hired and, under her direction, a new accounting and financial management software system was chosen and installed.
But to the BOE chair, a central thread of Charles's work in the district has been her work to advance and formalize processes within the district. Among these new processes were better coordination and leadership for special education, a new district maintenance manager to oversee building and equipment, a new accounting and reporting system, and a new system for curriculum development and review. Relying on a part-time staffing model, Charles used the resources available to better align district curriculum with state standards and systematize the curriculum process.
At press time, the Board of Education had already scheduled a special meeting to conduct its annual board self-evaluation. Now a new agenda item will be added: a discussion of whether or not to seek an interim superintendent to fill Charles's shoes while the board conducts a search for a new, permanent superintendent.
Westbrook said that the board will work to ensure that there is a smooth transition upon Charles's departure and will make sure that the needs of the Westbrook school district will continue to be met.