BOE taps Cooney to lead Cross Street School

Western Elementary School Principal Melissa Cooney, right, poses for a picture with Tara Fitzgerald, who won a ride to school in a police cruiser, and Naugatuck Police Det. Sean Simpson on the first day of school in August. Cooney will be leaving Western School to become principal at Cross Street Intermediate School at the end of the school year. –FILE PHOTO

Western Elementary School Principal Melissa Cooney, right, poses for a picture with Tara Fitzgerald, who won a ride to school in a police cruiser, and Naugatuck Police Det. Sean Simpson on the first day of school in August. Cooney will be leaving Western School to become principal at Cross Street Intermediate School at the end of the school year. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — One borough educator will be graduating from elementary school to intermediate school.

The Board of Education recently announced that Western Elementary School Principal Melissa Cooney will be taking the same position at Cross Street Intermediate School after this school year ends.

Cross Street’s current principal, Christopher Montini, will be stepping into the role of assistant superintendent of schools after this school year.

Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson said when an opening for a principal position arises the district first looks to see if any current principal would like the position. Cooney stepped forward for the position at Cross Street, he said.

“She has done a nice job at Western and we think she will do a great job at Cross Street,” Tindall-Gibson said.

Board of Education Chairman David Heller was also pleased with the work Cooney had been doing at Western.

“Ms. Cooney has been a wonderful instructional leader and collaborator. We’re very thrilled to have her,” Heller said. “We’re glad our intermediate students will experience what students at Western have been experiencing for years.”

Cooney has been working in the borough’s school system for five years, all as Western’s principal. She holds a six-year degree in educational leadership from Central Connecticut State University.

Cooney, now a Naugatuck resident, moved to the borough five years ago when she accepted the job at Western.

Prior to coming to Naugatuck she worked in the Hartford school system for 10 years, including two years as assistant principal at John C. Clark Jr. Elementary and Middle School.

Cooney said she’s enjoyed her time at Western and when the opportunity arose at Cross Street, she decided to pursue it.

“In an effort to continue to challenge myself professionally I approached the superintendent and asked him to consider me for the position,” Cooney said.

Cooney said she is pleased to be to working with fifth- and sixth-graders again.

While she is looking forward to her new position at Cross Street, Cooney said she is leaving Western with a “heavy heart.”

“Leaving Western is not an easy thing to do,” Cooney said. “I’m going to miss the students, the families and the staff terribly.”

Cooney said her main goal when she assumes the role of principal at Cross Street is to implement the new educational changes coming from the state, including new teacher evaluations and the Common Core State Standards initiative.

Cooney said she will handle the students the same in Cross Street as she has at Western, with the only difference being adjusting for the age of the students.

“Developmentally there will be some differences with that age group, so I will handle things differently in some aspects,” Cooney said.

Cooney’s move to Cross Street means the district will be searching for two elementary school principals at the end of this year.

Hop Brook Elementary School Principal Evelyn Gobstein announced her retirement earlier this year.

Tindall-Gibson said that both positions have been advertised for internal and external candidates. He expects to begin scheduling interviews in the next couple of weeks.