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School Superintendent Chris Melillo Ready To Get ‘Hands On’ July 1



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Chris Melillo's position as Newtown’s superintendent of schools begins July 1.

Melillo — who lives in Milford with his wife Diane and sons Christopher and Thomas Melillo — describes himself as a “hands-on leader.”

He was hired by the Board of Education unanimously at its May 17 meeting, ahead of Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue’s then-pending retirement from Newtown. Effective with her departure June 30, Rodrigue will be transitioning to the interim superintendent post at Regional School District #12 before formally moving into retirement.

Melillo comes to Newtown from his post as assistant superintendent in Hamden.

“I think it is a good fit for me,” said Melillo in a recent phone interview.

Melillo described himself as personable and as a strong relationship builder.

“I think leadership-wise, it was a good fit,” said Melillo about the process of being hired by the Newtown Board of Education.

Ahead of starting as Newtown’s top education administrator, Melillo visited the community to meet with town leaders, parents, and staff.

“I’ve been busy,” Melillo said.

Melillo said he will miss Hamden, especially the personal relationships.

Multiple Hamden Positions

As previously reported in The Newtown Bee, Melillo has served as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Hamden Public Schools since July 2012. During that time he also served as interim superintendent of schools, from February to July 2014.

He served as Hamden’s director of elementary education, October 2010-June 2012; principal at Shepherd Glen School, also in Hamden, July 2007-October 2010; and as assistant principal at ACES-Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden, August 2005-June 2007. He began his career as a fifth to sixth grade teacher at Church Street School and Bear Path School in Hamden, August 1993-June 2005.

When asked what he will bring from his experiences to the position in Newtown, Melillo said he has worked in all levels of education.

“I’ve basically had every position that an educational leader could have,” said Melillo, adding that his experience ranges from instruction and instructional practices to creating a budget.

He will miss the personal relationships he has built over time in Hamden. Melillo said he will miss the entire community.

“All the community members have been great, and I really will miss working with them,” he shared.

And he has “30,000-foot-view” hopes for the 2022-23 school year in Newtown and goals. Melillo said he would like to look at exploring more career pathways for students at Newtown High School, providing dual high school and college credit courses at NHS, and ensuring Newtown’s special education students and all students get what they need.

Return To ‘Normalcy’

Melillo said he is looking at coming back to some “normalcy” in terms of the pandemic, and he is developing a strategic plan to make all of his goals happen.

On the Board of Education side, Melillo said he will work on developing partnerships to come together to make decisions that are in the best interest of students. Before starting as superintendent, he said he had begun meeting with school board members to learn about them and understand what their views are.

Melillo grew up in Wallingford, and, at first, he started his career as an athletic trainer. After realizing the job was keeping him away from home, Melillo said he reflected and, “I’ve always had a connection working with children.” So Melillo went back to school to earn his teaching degree, and he “instantly loved the work.”

As previously reported in The Newtown Bee, Melillo earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Education at the University of Connecticut, graduating in May 1991. He continued his education at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), earning a Master’s of Reading in 2000, a Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership in May 2004, and a Connecticut Administrator and Supervisor Certificate the following month. He earned his Connecticut Superintendent of Schools Certificate in June 2015, also from SCSU.

Melillo wants Newtown residents to know that he is “family first,” which to him means that he will make decisions that he feels are best for students and families. He understands that sometimes decisions will be made that will not make everyone happy. He says the students are always his “North Star.”

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

Chris Melillo begins as Newtown’s Superintendent of Schools on July 1.
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