Commentary: When one door closes, another opens

Kelly Leppard,
Kelly Leppard,
Town of Southington youth prevention coordinator
and STEPS liason
Tel: (860) 276-6281

As many Southington residents may already know, Steve Nyerick, a staple in the Southington Public School System for many years, will be retiring at the end of this school year. Although he will be greatly missed, we could not be happier for Steve and his family.

When our community suffered multiple tragic losses 12 years ago, the STEPS Coalition was formed to create a safety net for our kids. The intention was to connect our community sectors so it became all of our responsibility—just like the saying, ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child.

Since kids spend a majority of their time at school, we needed to find a way to bring our efforts and the 40 developmental asset model into our district. We were told then that if we wanted something to get done and get done right, go find Mr. Nyerick. From a simple phone call to Steve with an idea to now a district-wide movement, Asset Building Classrooms in an initiative that is very special for the Southington community.

We credit this success to Steve’s dedication and leadership. In addition to asset building classrooms, we also have asset building cops, asset building congregations, asset building coaches, and asset building camps. Steve has deeply rooted asset building here in Southington, and we are so proud to work with him.

STEPS (Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success)
200 North Main St., Southington, CT 06489
Tel: (860) 276-6285

Steve has also helped take asset building throughout Connecticut. He has met with cities and towns across the state to help get their own initiatives up and running and has facilitated state-wide trainings. This past year, Steve received the education community sector award from the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals for his efforts.

Although there are many sad people within the district because Steve is retiring (especially his amazing team at DePaolo Middle School), we feel like we’ve struck gold. Steve is moving from a STEPS advisory board member to an executive committee member and will be even more involved than before—if you can imagine. (Steve, Megan and I have set up a desk for you in our office. We can work out the details later since this is the first time you’re hearing about this.)

One of our STEPS advisory board members once referred to Steve as a real life hero. We are pretty sure that about sums it up.

Steve, on behalf of all of your friends at STEPS, thank you. Thank you for setting the bar so high and thank you in advance for all the work we have lined up for you. If you see Steve around town in the next few weeks, please join us in wishing him the best.

For more information on Asset Building Classrooms, please visit

Kelly Leppard is the youth prevention coordinator for the Town of Southington and the STEPS liason. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281or