By SHERIDAN CYR
Tears were shed, laughs were boasted, and high heeled shoes clicked rhythmically across the floor of the auditorium of Thalberg Elementary School as teachers, students and Southington Public Schools administration said farewell to their beloved principal, Megan Bennett.
After six years at Thalberg, Bennett has accepted the position of superintendent of Region 12 district schools, which includes Bridgewater, Washington and Roxbury. The quirky, fun-loving principal who was known for her endless high-heels and her passion for Thalberg’s students was celebrated with a surprise “Megan Bennett Day” pep rally on June 19.
“She is small, but mighty, and has done countless things for this school,” said math specialist Sabina Skarzynski as teachers began filing students into the room. “She has taken on this enormous school alone. We have an enrolment of approximately 450 students, and she knows every single one of them by name.”
Skarzynski said Thalberg is about the same size as Derynoski Elementary School, but their school has both a principal and an assistant principal. Thalberg only has a principal.
“She is actually leaving with the students she came in with,” she added. The kindergarteners who came into Thalberg the same year Bennett did are now graduating and moving onto middle school
In Bennett’s time at Thalberg, she accomplished a number of initiatives, including getting a new playground, starting a runner club, growing and maintaining a garden and creating “textperts” or technology experts.
“We are going to miss her so much,” said first grade teacher Kim Angelillo. “She has been such an amazing asset to our school, and we knew we wanted to give her a special send-off to her new position.”
Students huddled in anticipation on the floor of the auditorium. The lights were dimmed and no one said a word. When Bennett walked in the doors, the whole room yelled, “Surprise!”
Thalberg band students rocked out on the stage while all of the teachers marched around the room in their high heels — including the men, who taped doorstops to the bottom of their shoes. Every teacher wore a black shirt that said “Keep calm and put your heels on.”
Each grade gave a unique presentation that commemorated their principal with songs, poetry, signs and more. A “Meganisms” video captured all of Bennett’s catchphrases and characteristics that make her stand out the most.
“To be a superintendent at 41 years old is super rare, yet everyone knew it would happen,” said Michelle Kenny, emcee of the event. “Your shoes will be hard to fill. We know you will do amazing things.”
Bennett told students to be assured they will be in good hands with their new principal, Katie Reeves.
“I’ve already warned her, she has the best school, so she has to be the best principal,” Bennett said. “When you do good things, you get good things. You have been my good things for six years, every day. I love you all.”
Superintendent of Southington Public Schools, Tim Connellan, wishes Bennett the best in her new endeavors. He recalled her efforts as a member of “Team 21,” a professional development group that focuses on transforming how we teach and learn in the 21st century.
“Megan has been a wonderful member of our leadership team and has made significant contributions, not only to Thalberg but to the district,” he said. “She has always been very active and willing to volunteer her own time.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.