Longtime Norwich Principal Scott Fain to retire this year

Norwich — After 32 years in education, the last 25 years as an elementary and middle school principal, Scott Fain has noticed the young students seem to be running faster and have much more energy than he does now.

Fain, 56, announced this past week he plans to retire at the end of the current school year, his 12th at what is now the Wequonnoc Arts & Technology Magnet School and 21st as a Principal in Norwich public schools. Fain served as Principal of the John B. Stanton Elementary School for four years and at Kelly Middle School for five years before coming to Wequonnoc elementary school.

Fain said he worked for “three outstanding superintendents” in Norwich, and credited former Lisbon Superintendent Lawrence Fenn — now the Franklin superintendent — for hiring him as Principal of the Lisbon Central School. He said Fenn has been his mentor ever since.

Fain thanked the parents and the "phenomenal staff" in Norwich and Lisbon who worked for him.

“I want to thank the people in Norwich for sharing their children with me,” Fain said Thursday, after he submitted his retirement letter to the Board of Education on Wednesday. “I’ve had several families where I have the children of parents I had as students years ago.”

There also are several teachers in the Norwich school system Fain had as students, including two at Wequonnoc: second grade teacher Ashley Schmitt, a former Stanton School student, and instructional specialist Ashley Favello, a former Lisbon Central School student.

Both were hired by Fain at Wequonnoc.

"At first, it felt like my principal was watching over me," Favello said. "It's been great. He's been my mentor."

Schmitt worked at Stanton as a classroom interventionist and long-term substitute before being hired as a full-time teacher this year. She joked that Fain really was waiting for her to become a full-time teacher before retiring.

"I don't remember him any differently," she said of her perspective as a student and now a teacher working for Fain. "He was always happy and helpful."

Superintendent Abby Dolliver, who also plans to retire June 30, said Fain made Wequonnoc his home.

"He put his heart and soul into it," she said. "He knew all the kids and the families and he served us well."

Wequonnoc is the Norwich school with the closest ties to its surrounding village neighborhood. Each year, students celebrate the last day of school with a walk through the village, and the school recently paired with police to enhance the community relations between officers and residents.

Fain said the conversion to a STEAM magnet school in 2014, which brought in students from other parts of Norwich to Wequonnoc, lessened the connection with Taftville somewhat. Wequonnoc used to need only two buses, because so many students walked to school. Now, the school uses seven buses.

Still, about 40 to 50 percent of students walk to and from school or receive rides from parents.

“At dismissal time, you’d be amazed at how many kids walk out,” Fain said. “We have the down-hill kids and the up-hill kids. They’re either walking up Merchants Avenue or down Providence Street.”

The school, whose address is 155 Providence St., is located at the split on Route 169, where Providence Street turns into Merchants Avenue heading up the hill out of the village.

Fain grew up in Mystic and graduated from Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical High School in Groton, with a specialty in carpentry. He worked in construction through high school and college at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

But Fain boasted that his first job as a youth was as a delivery boy for the Norwich Bulletin in the morning and The Day, then an afternoon paper, in the afternoons, walking door to door through his Mystic neighborhood.

After spending some time relaxing with his wife, Pam, at their home in Ledyard, Fain said he might turn back to woodworking as a hobby — minus the part that requires climbing ladders.

“Or maybe I’ll go back to my first job,” Fain joked, “and start delivering The Day paper again.”

c.bessette@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the name of Fain's wife.

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