Montville — With his youngest child set to graduate from high school and retirement age nearing, Jeff Theodoss took the spring to consider his next move.
He decided it was time for a new challenge. He knew a life of morning runs to the coffee shop for chats with the boys just wasn't for him.
"That's not me. And I know I hate yard work, so I can't see myself puttering around," said Theodoss, 58, who in June was named the new principal of Montville High School. "Kids have been my life. I've coached and taught and that's the stuff I love."
Theodoss was back at it early Monday. After retiring earlier this year from his post as principal at Foxboro High School in Foxboro, Mass., he arrived here early Monday as high school students arrived for the first day of school.
Montville High School and the town's other public schools were among those that opened Monday with the rest of the region's schools set to open throughout the week. Students settled into their homerooms just after 7:30 a.m and at 8 sharp the freshmen class filed inside the school auditorium for a brief orientation with Theodoss.
The talk included other administrators and teachers and covered a little of everything. Assistant principals Tatiana Patten and Jason Daly went over some reminders about gym locks, protocol for keeping backpacks inside lockers and restrictions on carrying food throughout the school.
Dr. Theodore Phillips, director of the guidance department, encouraged freshmen students to get an early start on planning their futures beyond high school. Theodoss spoke more broadly about how students should approach their overall high school experience.
"I tried to stress that it's not my school, it's our school," Theodoss said. "When you leave here after four years, how do you want to be remembered?"
Theodoss He has been a teacher for 36 years, an administrator since 1993 and also coached football and girls' basketball during his teaching stops.
He took over for Chad Ellis, who resigned as principal in April, and Theodoss said Monday he's started to get a better grasp of the school district with students and teachers back in the building. Theodoss, who commutes from his home in Massachusetts, is also getting a taste of what the town is about.
"It's interesting because it seems like everyone I met either lives in Montville, teaches in Montville or went to school in Montville," he said. "That kind of says something about the town and the community, the closeness and the bond."
The high school does have some new technology to offer its students. Superintendent of Schools Pamela Aubin said recently each classroom has been equipped with a Smart Board. They are interactive white boards mounted on the walls that allow a lesson plan or other material to be projected on the wall. It is a new step away from traditional chalk boards and allows students to be more involved in the learning process, teachers say.
Theodoss said the technology would also make it fairly simple for a student who is absent to pick up the lesson plan and view it on a computer.