By LINDSAY CAREY
From tutor to math teacher to principal of two elementary schools before finally landing in the role of assistant superintendent of schools, a 29-year career in Southington education is coming to an end.
Assistant Superinten-dent of Schools Karen Smith is retiring, effective on June 30. She said that the highlight of her career has been working with children from pre-K through high school.
Within the last year, Smith took on the challenge of serving as interim superintendent for four months to see the district through the hiring process after Dr. Joseph Erardi left the school system.
“I was very lucky that I had a long history in the school system, so I knew who to go to get information,” said Smith. “It’s good to have someone with local experience to hold things together.”
Smith said it helped that she knew all of the building administrators from her time as principal and assistant superintendent. The Board of Education was another source she tapped into during that time.
“My four months as interim superintendent was not done alone. I led the team, but it was it was clearly a team effort,” she said. “We have a very effective board of education, these are folks who have been elected and re-elected—some of them many times—and they were there to help.”
Superintendent Timothy Connellan said Smith has been a helpful resource to him as he stepped into his position.
“It’s just been a tremendous gift for me and I know it was gift, because she was perhaps ready to move on to the next phase of life sooner, and I feel fortunate that she stayed on to help me with this transition,” said Connellan at the Board of Education meeting on March 12. “I can’t say enough about what Karen brings to this district. I have no idea how we are going to replace the institutional knowledge and the skill, the gentle and sometimes not so gentle questioning that takes and most of all the passion for the work that she brings.”
Smith said that although she loves her profession, she’s been working in education for almost three decades. The assistant superintendent said that she is ready to spend more time with her family, especially with three grandchildren between the ages of four and six.
“I, along with my husband, would really enjoy an opportunity to spend more time with them,” she said.
If possible, Smith said she would be interested in short term opportunities in education like working on an interim basis.
“I love my profession so much, I would consider that should the opportunity present itself,” said Smith.
As her role of assistant superintendent comes to an end, a reflective Smith said that she hopes she is viewed as an educator who kept children at the center of her work.
“I hope to be remembered as someone who always put children first no matter what, budget or anything. Children always come first,” she said. “And also that children are more than test scores.”
To comment on this story or to reach staff writer Lindsay Carey, email her at LCarey@SouthingtonObserver.com.