By JEN CARDINES
Katie T. Guerrette stood before the Board of Education and Flanders Elementary School staff during the June 22 meeting to be officially welcomed to her new position. After a long wait due to the delayed budget schedule, the board unanimously appointed Guerrette as Flanders’ next principal.
Former principal Pat Mazzarella retired in December, and two district staff members, Sally Kamerbeek and Charity Baker, worked together as acting principals for the duration of the school year.
Guerrette was among 90 applicants for the job, progressing to the top three finalists that came before the board. Superintendent Timothy Connellan said there was a very talented pool of applicants that included administrators, principals, and assistant principals.
“The group of finalists were all excellent administrators and all capable of coming to Southington and doing a great job,” said Connellan. “Katie stood out for a number of reasons, including her energy and enthusiasm.”
Guerrette taught second and third grade at Highland Elementary School in Cheshire for nine years before transitioning to an administrative role. In 2012, she became an assistant principal in Cromwell, where she split her time between Edna C. Stevens Elementary School (Pre-K to Grade 2) and Woodside Intermediate School (Grades 3 to 5).
“In both Cheshire and Cromwell, I was very fortunate to work with amazing administrators who served as excellent mentors, preparing me for this position,” Guerrette said.
When the Flanders position opened up, she jumped at the chance to work in her home town.
“As a Southington resident, I was drawn to this position because I wanted to have the opportunity to give back to the community that has been so wonderful for my family,” she said.
It wasn’t her excitement that got her the job, though. Her years of experience and dedication to the field had to play a role also. Guerrette graduated with high honors from Central Connecticut State University for both a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in special education. She then obtained a sixth-year degree in educational leadership from Quinnipiac University, again with high honors.
Throughout her career, she attended and presented at numerous professional development seminars, planned school events, and revised curriculum. While other applicants also had hearty resumes, Southington staff saw Guerrette as the best candidate for the Flanders community.
“Selecting the best person for a position such as this almost always comes down to fit,” Connellan said. “She was the best fit for Flanders Elementary School.”
The new principal said she is excited to meet the students, staff and families at Flanders, as well as build a positive school community.
“Katie has already started to reach out to families and staff, and I know that she is anxious to meet people and listen to everything they have to say about their hopes and dreams for the students and families of FES,” said Connellan.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.