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CLINTON - After serving the Clinton Public Schools as the Special Services director for the past 26 years, Janet Brisson has decided to embrace retirement, reconnect with old friends, spend time with family, and read without worry about the time.
Brisson's replacement, Kelly Enoch, has had the advantage of shadowing Brisson for the past year working in the adjacent office as the supervisor of Special Services.
Brisson, who lives in Durham, said that her greatest reward over the years has been working with families and students with disabilities and watching them progress and grow.
"I have been fortunate enough to see some of the students here start pre-school at age three and go right on through our system until the age of 21. That has been very rewarding," said Brisson. "It is wonderful to see students graduate who have overcome so many obstacles over the years and watch them grow up into independent adults."
Of the new special education programs Brisson has initiated in the district, one of which she is particularly proud is the STRIVE program, which serves 18- to
21 year-old students with disabilities. It's an on-site community program that includes classroom work as well as vocational experiences for students in conjunction with the Madison and Guilford school systems.
"I am always very excited to start new programs that meet the needs of our students locally instead of having them travel far away," said Brisson.
Having worked for eight different superintendents in Clinton, Brisson said that she has been grateful to have her current boss, Dr. Jack Cross.
"He is a wonderful boss, as is Maryann O'Donnell, the assistant superintendent. Our entire team really focuses on the best interests of the students at all times," said Brisson, who will work part-time as an educational consultant once she officially retires in a few weeks.
"Over the past years I have come to know and appreciate Janet and her wealth of knowledge and her breadth of experience," said Cross. "I am thrilled for her that she is starting a new chapter in her life. She has done a fabulous job for the district and she always puts our students first. She will be sorely missed."
"It has been such a benefit to have been able to work with Jan over the past year," said Enoch, who will officially move into the director's position at the end of June. "She is so knowledgeable. I have learned a lot in a short amount of time. In addition, this time has given me the opportunity to get to know the staff, the parents, and the students, so I am prepared moving into the director's position."
"We are very fortunate to have hired Kelly a year ago. She is very smart and she has taken on every task we have asked of her 110 percent," said Cross. "Having Kelly work side by side with Jan has allowed her to understand the breadth of that role, and I think we are very lucky to have Kelly stepping into this position, which is truly one of the hardest jobs to find the right person for. Kelly is one of the best bright stars in the special education arena."
Enoch said it is important to her that parents view her as accessible.
"I always have an open door policy and I am available for families and staff when they need me. I am very responsive to phone calls and I will be working very hard to continue to develop programming in Clinton that will benefit our students and always be in their best interest," said Enoch, who has previously taught as both a special education and a general education teacher. "I went into special education administration because I felt that I could do more to benefit the special ed students in this capacity than I could in the classroom."