Waterford - Andre Hauser, a man known as unflappable and forward-thinking, will start his first full school year as Waterford High School's principal this month.
"I am excited about finding out what we can do as a school in this new building," Hauser said on Monday. "They have come from an environment with very little educational technology into an environment with incredible technology access."
In the past, the 43-year-old Hauser said he has supported new technology in classrooms, held students to higher standards and encouraged a fun school environment. He said he wants to allow students to bring their own electronic devices to Waterford High School for learning purposes, but overall needs to learn more about Waterford High before he determines which new programs he wants to back at the school.
Hauser enters his first year at Waterford High School after learning the ropes from former Principal Donald Macrino, who left in June. Hauser was the principal at Coginchaug High School in Durham for nearly three years and assistant principal at the school from 2003 to 2010.
Hauser said he chose Waterford High because he was looking for a larger school, a new professional challenge and school where he could grow.
The former Coginchaug principal wants to work with faculty to implement a "Bring Your Own Device" program and said he sees this as a logical next step for the high school.
The policy allows students to bring their own mobile phones and tablets to school so they can photograph homework assignments, post short answers on Twitter or homework answers on the teacher's blog. Hauser said the school will still have textbooks.
Other innovative programs Hauser had a hand in at Coginchaug included teaching adults how to better communicate with children and giving student athletes who didn't meet strict academic performance requirements a second chance. Students who had failed a class were required to turn in a weekly document signed by all of the student's teachers that said the student had completed all of their homework and classroom assignments and behaved appropriately in class in order to participate.
Hauser said he couldn't say which former programs he might try at Waterford High School other than the Bring Your Own Device program.
"It's a little early for me to just come in and say 'OK folks, we are changing this and changing that,' " he said. "It is more important that I learn what we do well here first and then figure out what I can add to it."
Hauser said the fact the community has high-tech teaching tools in each classroom such as smart boards, powerful Wi-Fi and science labs tailored to biology, chemistry or oceanography, tells him the school is interested in trying new ideas. He said the increase in students' Connecticut Academic Performance Test scores, tells him that teachers are working hard to change their teaching styles based on what students need.
He believes school should be a fun place to work hard, he said.
His former superintendent, Susan Viccaro, who serves as superintendent of Newburyport Public Schools in Massachusetts, said Hauser was great at interacting with students and "unflappable" in any situation.
Hauser, Viccaro and Brian Bodner, assistant principal at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, who worked with Hauser for three years, worked together after Hurricane Irene when Coginchaug became the town's shelter.
"That was fun," Hauser said. "It was a different experience I will tell you that. You really learn about how important a school is to a community when it was only place with power."
Hauser could share a laugh with kids and command respect, Viccaro said. He would bring his two young sons in occasionally and always had toys in his office, she said.
Hauser said when he told his sons, 9 and 11, he would be changing jobs, they were very concerned.
But when they saw the indoor pool and science labs at the high school "they decided that this was a nice school and I could be here," said Hauser who added that he and his family will continue living in Madison.