Superintendent search down to one

NAUGATUCK — An assistant superintendent of New Britain public schools is in line to become the new head of the Naugatuck school system.

Naugatuck Board of Education Chairman Dave Heller confirmed Tuesday that Sharon Locke is the only finalist for the position of school superintendent in the borough. She will visit Naugatuck schools on Thursday, and Naugatuck school board members will visit the New Britain school system on Monday to learn more about how Locke interacts with others in a work environment.

“We hope everybody likes her on Thursday, and if all goes well, we plan to hire her before the end of the month,” Heller said.

Locke, 46, of Durham, has been the chief academic officer, or assistant superintendent for instruction, since 2012. Prior to that, she was director of district improvement for grades K-5 for two years, and from 2008-10 she was district test coordinator. She also served as principal of Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City, Iowa, in 2007-08, and as vice principal at New Britain High School from 2006-07.

She started her career as a guidance counselor, and worked in that role for several years before going into administration.

“I always knew that I wanted to work with kids,” she said, adding that she has coached several teams throughout the years.

Locke currently earns just under $150,000 a year in her position in New Britain. Naugatuck officials have not said how much she would earn here. A contract negotiation will take place if she is officially offered the job, said John Lawlor, human resources director for Naugatuck. Former Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson, who served from 2006 to 2013, earned about $165,000 a year.

Lawlor said there were 16 candidates who completed the full application process, and five were interviewed.

Heller said what set Locke apart was that she has terrific experience. In particular, Heller was pleased with her strong background in curriculum development and that she put together New Britain’s grant application for alliance district funding, which goes toward the lowest 30 school districts in the state based on standardized test scores. Naugatuck is also an alliance district.

“She has a lot of energy, some great ideas, and she seems very enthusiastic about coming to Naugatuck,” Heller said.

Locke has worked in curriculum, instruction and assessment, teaming structures, professional development, teacher development and evaluation, on the superintendent’s executive leadership team, on the budget, on district data teams, on computerized grading systems, on state reporting for federal funding and has worked with the Board of Education to cultivate relationships and write policy draft, according to her resume.

One of the the attributes she has shown that the Naugatuck school board was seeking is her ability to communicate effectively with the school board, parents, borough officials and the community at large.

Locke has played a major role in communicating with staff, parents and the community via the internet.

“We have had considerable success in New Britain, and I feel like I have a lot to offer,” she said. “New Britain and Naugatuck are different communities but there are some similarities.”

Locke said that in her current role, she has developed a great relationship with the state Department of Education, which she thinks will help her in Naugatuck, as well.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us, and we’re toying with the idea of moving closer to Naugatuck,” said Locke, who has a 17-year-old son and is engaged. “I’m really excited about this opportunity, and I feel like it’s a great match for my skills and Naugatuck’s need. I think we can do great things together.”

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