February 1, 2023

Region 4 Schools Open Thursday with Three New Principals

REGION 4— Region 4 schools open Thursday for the 2012-2013 school year with three new principals, the start of full-day kindergarten and a veteran elementary school principal moving in to the position of assistant superintendent of schools.

In what may be the largest number of new administrators in the 60-year history of the Chester-Deep River-Essex district, there will be new principals on the job at John Winthrop Middle School and the elementary schools in Deep River and Essex. The new assistant superintendent is Joanne Beekley, who had served as principal at Essex Elementary School for the past eight years. Beekley replaces Ian Neviaser, a former principal at Valley Regional High School ,who held the job for two years before he was named as superintendent of schools for the Region 18 Lyme-Old Lyme school district last spring.

Beekley’s promotion created an opening at Essex Elementary School that is filled by Scott Jeffrey, a Connecticut native who is returning to his home state after working as an assistant principal at an elementary school in South Carolina.

The other two new principals were hired after retirements. Jennifer Byars, a Deep River resident is the new principal at Deep river Elementary School, replacing 13-year principal Jack Pietrick . The new principal at the middle school is William Duffy, who worked previously as assistant principal for a middle school in Glastonbury. Duffy replaces David Russell, who retired in June after  leading John Winthrop Middle School for 17 years. The two returning principals are Michael Barile at Chester Elementary School and Christina Martineau at Valley Regional High School.

The full-day kindergarten will begin at each of the three elementary schools. After two years of study and planning, district school boards decided that declines in student enrollment at the elementary schools would allow the district to implement full-day kindergarten at a minimal increase in costs and with classroom space available at the schools. Funding for the full-day kindergarten was included in the elementary school budgets that were approved by voters of the three towns at the annual budget votes in May.

While there are several new administrators, the number of new teachers and other certified staff at the schools is lower than in many previous years. There are three new staff at the high school, Michael Scott as the in-school suspension monitor, Jacquelyn Sullivan as the art teacher, and Joseph Moller as a one-third time Latin teacher.

New at the middle school are Denise Ripley teaching English, math tutor Lucy Hotkowski, special education teacher Dina Monaco, teaching assistant Felicia Ramsey, and school psychologist Mallory Coleman. The supervision district is funding two new half-time positions that are shared by all three elementary schools, special education teacher Nichol Stevens and music teacher Jennifer Bellizzi.

The only new staff at the elementary schools are para-educators, including Mara Lowry at Chester Elementary School, and Eve Grande, Gale Dilger, Bria Toolan, and Kelly Tracey at Essex Elementary School.