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BOE Celebrates Retiring Educators



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The Board of Education celebrated retiring educators at its June 1 meeting, which was held in the NHS auditorium and streamed virtually.

Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue shared that, in total, the retiring educators completed 439 years in Newtown and 653 years in education, including other districts.

Each retiree was announced by either Dr Rodrigue or Assistant Superintendent of Schools Anne Uberti at the meeting. The retirees present for the meeting came up to accept a gift and stood together for a photo.

Information shared at the meeting included when the retirees started working in the school district and what their jobs were. The information, shared by the school district, follows.

Reed Intermediate School Assistant Principal Jill Beaudry was hired in 2004 as a part-time gifted and talented teacher. Beaudry later became a fifth grade teacher then was appointed assistant principal in 2014. She previously taught in California and Hartford, for a total of 17 years in Newtown and 31 years in education.

Patty Bowles was hired in 2004 in a long-term reading position at Newtown Middle School and later became full-time until she retired in September 2020, according to the district. “Patty previously taught in West Virginia, Louisiana and Connecticut for a total of 16 years. Combined with 16 years in Newtown, Patty has been in education for 32 years,” the released information reads.

Angela Choniski was hired as a part-time art teacher at Reed in January 2003. Her prior teaching included public and private schools in New Jersey, Colorado, and Brookfield. She has a total of 30 years in education.

Susan Connelly was hired as a guidance counselor at NMS in 2000. She had taught in California and Westport for a total of 14 years previously. Combined, she has a total of 35 years in education.

Director of Bands Kurt Eckhardt was hired as a music teacher at Newtown High School in 2002. He previously taught in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Connecticut for a total of 24 years. Combined with 19 years in Newtown, Eckhardt has been in education for 43 years.

Samuel Haber was hired as a third grade teacher at Hawley Elementary School in 1996. He also taught fourth grade, and he previously taught in New York. He has 25 years in Newtown and a total of 33 years in education.

Elizabeth (Ellie) Hanna was hired in 2004 as an English teacher at NHS. She previously taught elsewhere in Connecticut for 14 years. Hanna has 17 years in Newtown and a total of 31 years in teaching.

Michelle-Holda Vaccaro was hired in 1994 as a sixth grade teacher at NMS and remained in that grade when Reed opened. She previously taught in Michigan and Connecticut for 11 years. That, combined with 33 years in Newtown, means she has been in education for 44 years.

Carol Howard was hired in August 1996 for a one-year fifth grade position at Sandy Hook Elementary School and in 1997 for a kindergarten position at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School. Her teaching career has been in Newtown for 24 years.

Pamela Kohn was hired in 1993 in a one-year position at Middle Gate Elementary School and then in 1994 was hired as a reading teacher at NMS. She moved to Reed when it opened. She has taught in Newtown for 28 years.

Valerie LeBlanc was hired in 2002 as a seventh grade teacher at NMS. She previously taught in Maryland for two years and has a total of 21 years in teaching.

Thomas Kuroski was hired in September 1984 as a seventh grade science teacher at NMS. He moved to NHS in 1999 to teach earth science. Kuroski has taught in Newtown for 37 years and has served as the president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers.

Edward Obloj was hired in 1984 as a social studies teacher at NMS and moved to NHS in 1996. He previously taught for two years in New York and Massachusetts. He has taught in Newtown for 37 years.

Abigail (Abby) Olsen was hired in 2005 as a grade eight language arts teacher in NMS. She previously taught in Stamford and Bethel for a total of 14 years. Combined with her 16 years in Newtown, Olsen has been in education for 30 years.

Maureen Pennarola was hired in 2002 as a full-time substitute for the resource teacher at Head O’ Meadow and was later hired as a full-time special education teacher at Sandy Hook School. Pennarola transferred to Head O’ Meadow School in 2004. Along with teaching elsewhere in the state, she has a combined 29 years in education.

Leslie Regensberger worked in long-term substitute positions for three years and was hired as a long-term substitute at Hawley School in 2005. She was then appointed as a full-time third grade teacher at Hawley. In 2010, she moved to Middle Gate and continued there in third grade. She has taught in Newtown for 20 years.

Mardi Smith was hired in 1996 as a part-time music teacher at Hawley and Middle Gate schools. In 2003 she moved to a full-time position at Reed. She also taught in Africa and Egypt. She has a total of 34 years in education.

Eileen Tabasko was hired in 2011 as a reading and language arts consultant at Head O’ Meadow. She taught in New Milford for 22 years and has a combined 32 years in education.

Carrie Usher was hired in 2006 as a fourth grade teacher at Sandy Hook School. In 2013 she transferred to NMS to teach grade eighth grade language arts and in 2016 went to Reed to teach fifth grade. She also taught in Trumbull and has a combined 21 years in education.

Anna Volpacchio was hired in 2011 as the middle school Family Consumer Science teacher. She previously taught in New York and she has a total of 45 years in education.

Carol Wexler was hired in 2001 as a full-time intern at Sandy Hook School and in 2002 became a fourth grade teacher there. In 2015, Wexler moved to Reed to teach sixth grade. She has been in education for 20 years.

Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue, left, stands with retiring district educators present for the Board of Education’s June 1 meeting. —Bee Photo, Hallabeck
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