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Norwich middle school principal will resign in June, citing health reasons

Norwich — The longtime principal at the troubled Teachers’ Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School will resign at the end of the school year, citing personal and family health issues.

Alexandria Lazzari, 58, sent a letter dated Monday to parents, staff and Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow saying she will put her health and the health of her husband and extended family “as my main priorities.” She said she is announcing her resignation early to allow the district administration time to fill the position "and to support the transition of new leadership." She will remain in her position through the rest of the 2021-22 school year.

Lazzari said Wednesday she could not comment on the recent administrative changes at the school to crack down on student misbehavior. On Friday, in response to escalating student behavioral problems, Stringfellow assigned Assistant Superintendent Tamara Gloster as “supervisor in charge” at the school and Stringfellow also will work there daily into next week.

Other changes were enacted, including assigning instructional coaches and a dean of climate and culture, and staff and students were informed that school rules and discipline will be enforced strictly and consistently. On Friday, three students were arrested and 15 were suspended for various durations, including two who will be recommended for expulsion.

Stringfellow could not be reached for comment on Lazzari’s resignation Wednesday.

Lazzari started her 10th year at Teachers’ Memorial this year but took a three-month medical leave of absence that ended Jan. 3, when she returned. Interim Principal Adam Rosenberg filled in during her absence.

“I followed the directives of my medical team and worked on my health issues,” Lazzari wrote in her letter. “While I was recuperating, my husband also experienced health complications. I also took the time to re-evaluate my life priorities. I soon realized that my health, my husband, my children and extended family are my main priorities.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected Lazzari personally. She lost her sister, a staff member in July and a very good friend in September, one due to COVID and two with COVID-related illnesses, she said.

“I would like to thank the Global Studies staff and students and the Norwich Public Schools for allowing me to be a part of your community for the past nine years,” she wrote in the letter. “I appreciate your continued commitment to the children of Norwich.”

Lazzari had an unusual tenure at Teachers, essentially leading three different schools at different times under the same roof. She started in fall of 2012 as principal of the sixth through eighth grade middle school, coming to Norwich from a previous position as assistant principal in Windham.

But when sharp budget cuts hit in spring of 2016, middle schools were overhauled and Lazzari was asked to lead a sixth grade academy at Teachers’ Memorial. All city seventh and eighth graders were sent to the Kelly Middle School. Lazzari studied the concept of sixth-grade-only schools and helped plan the transition.

Two years later, that arrangement was abandoned, as Norwich received federal grant money to launch two intradistrict magnet middle schools, turning Teachers’ Memorial into a global studies school with world languages and international themes, and Kelly into a STEAM magnet school. Norwich middle school students choose their desired school and enter a lottery for available spaces.

Also in 2012, Lazzari was tapped by then-Superintendent Abby Dolliver to help write a school turnaround plan for the John B. Stanton Elementary School, which had been designated by the state as a Network School to receive special grant funding.

“I’m honored and forever grateful to have been part of such an amazing team of professionals here,” Lazzari said, “and everyone here has had a positive impact on our students here at Global.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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