By Lisa Capobianco
School and town officials expressed their gratitude for the work of Dr. Joseph Erardi last week during a Board of Education meeting on April 11, saying farewell to the Southington Supt. of Schools who has accepted the new role of Newtown Superintendent.
Southington High School teacher Bob Brown, who presented Dr. Erardi with a plaque on his last day, thanked the superintendent not only for his service to the community, but also for his willingness to collaborate and to solve problems as a team.
“You’re the fourth Supt. I worked for in the town of Southington, and there is simply no comparison,” said Brown during the meeting. “Thank you for your service to our profession, the Southington community, to the thousands of young people we have educated today.”
Brown also wished Dr. Erardi well in his new role as the Superintendent of Newtown.
“May your many skills help heal that needed community,” Brown told Dr. Erardi, adding that his respect for the superintendent goes beyond any words that can be written. “We admire you for wanting to take on that difficult task—that is who you are.”
“Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your service for the last seven years, thank you for all that you have provided to our children,” added Jim Quinn, the principal of South End School.
Dr. Erardi, who announced his resignation in January, became superintendent in Southington in 2007, replacing Dr. Harvey Polansky. He previously served as superintendent in Watertown and Bolton.
A press release from the Newtown Board of Education said Dr. Erardi was one of 30 candidates who submitted an application for the position. After several rounds of interviews and extensive reference checks, the board said in the release that Dr. Erardi “rose to the top of a very competitive group,” and was also “exceptional for his depth and breadth of understanding not only of the academic side of the equation but the human side as well,” the release said, noting his extensive knowledge about instruction, particularly with restructuring K-8 literacy with the Reader’s/Writer’s Workshop.
“Dr. Erardi you molded our children into global and critical thinkers, you challenged our parents to do the same, and lead by example, you fostered a new and positive relationship in the governing process here in Southington, and for that, we are really grateful,” said Southington Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio who thanked Dr. Erardi with Town Councilor Tom Lombardi, on behalf of the town.
School board member Patricia Queen said the president of the National Honor Society, Stephen Baramore, presented Dr. Erardi with a coin for his service during the induction ceremony. When Dr. Erardi received the coin, the president commenting that “Dr. Erardi is going to change the lives of another group of students who are extremely lucky to have him,” Queen shared publicly during the meeting.
Reflecting back on Dr. Erardi’s tenure, Queen said Dr. Erardi always reminded members of the school board that their work is “about doing what is right for children.”
“I heard a phrase from Dr. Erardi that stood with me and stays with me: ‘Stand tall for children,’” Queen recalled. “I think he has inspired all of us to do that.”
“We know you will make Newtown as proud as you made us,” added Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski thanking Dr. Erardi on behalf of the school board and all Southington students.
“It has been truly my privilege to be your superintendent of schools and I mean that from my heart,” replied Dr. Erardi.