Keleher takes over as new principal at Fitch High School

Groton — As the new principal of Robert E. Fitch High School, Edward "Ted" Keleher has been busily working on his first goal: meeting everyone and learning how he can support what he calls the great work at Fitch.

"I want to work with everybody in this school to create the best possible environment we can create for the kids, so for me, it's really important that's it's not 'me' doing the work, it's 'us' doing the work," said Keleher, who has served as principal at East Windsor High School for the past eight years and tries to be as collaborative as possible.

Keleher, who was hired as the new principal at Fitch after Joe Arcarese retired this summer, said his goal is to create a great environment for the students and teachers to do their jobs and already has seen how well the teachers and students relate to each other.

"I see the teachers really working to get to know their students, and I think that those relationships in the classroom are really the building blocks to great teaching," he said. "There can't be great teaching going on unless you have a great environment, and I've just seen teachers working on creating those positive relationships right from the get-go."

Keleher, 43, who earned his bachelor's degree from Trinity College, master's from the University of Hartford, and administration certification from Central Connecticut State University, lives in Marlborough with his wife, Dina, a school counselor in South Windsor, and two children, Jamie, 13, and Eva, 10.

He began his career in education as a teacher at the Watkinson School in Hartford, where he started coaching lacrosse while he was an undergraduate at Trinity College. He then taught math at Windsor High School, while also coaching the hockey and lacrosse teams and helping out with the football team. He became assistant principal at Bristol Eastern High School in 2007 and has served as principal of East Windsor High School for the past eight years.

Keleher said he always has been interested in working in the Groton area — he has been visiting the area with his kids for years and himself came here as a child — and was looking to work at a larger school that has a diverse student body.

And while Keleher may be new to Fitch High School, the school's former principal had a huge impact on him.

Keleher said he credits his start in administration to Arcarese, who was principal at Windsor High School when Keleher was a teacher there, as well as other Windsor administrators.

Keleher said Arcarese made him see how important building relationships is to the achievement of students and teachers.

"He was a terrific principal, a great role model for me, and certainly it’s a great honor, quite frankly, to be taking over for him," Keleher said.

Keleher, who began working at Fitch on Aug. 29 and has been spending a few days a week at Fitch and a few days at East Windsor High School to help with the transition, will begin working full-time at Fitch on Sept. 30. He said both schools have been very supportive.

To welcome him to the school, Fitch seniors painted a parking spot for him, and he has been greeting the students in the mornings and holding "High Five Fridays," meeting staff, and planning to attend events to introduce himself in person to parents.

Superintendent Michael Graner said Keleher had excellent relevant experience working with the socio-economic group served by Fitch High School, as both East Windsor and Groton are Alliance Districts. Graner also praised Keleher's excellent instructional leadership and excellent relationships with students and involvement with sports and the arts.   

A committee of students, teachers, administrators and board members interviewed the candidates for principal.

"We knew we were looking for strong instructional leadership skills and hoping to find someone with excellent relevant experience, and we thought Ted brought all those things to Groton," Graner said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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