Board finds right fit for Andrew Avenue

LaChance appointed principal at elementary school

Lisa LaChance

NAUGATUCK — After six years working as an administrator in the Naugatuck school system, Lisa LaChance will soon lead her own school.

The Board of Education unanimously voted Sept. 12 to appoint LaChance, 43, as the new principal for Andrew Avenue Elementary School. She starts on Monday.

LaChance is the district coordinator for special services, a position she’s held since 2017. Before that, she was an assistant principal at City Hill Middle School from 2013 to 2017 and a social worker at Naugatuck High School from 2007 to 2013. As principal, her salary will be $137,981 this fiscal year.

“I really miss the day-to-day student contact. I miss seeing things all the way through and having that daily relationship with teachers, students and families. Planning with students and families and teachers is really what I’m looking forward to getting back to,” LaChance said.

LaChance received a Bachelor of Science degree and Masters of Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She earned a certificate in Administrative Leadership from Sacred Heart University and a Social and Emotional Learning and School Climate certificate from Quinnipiac University.

LaChance replaces Taran Gruber, who resigned as principal at Andrew Avenue in June to take the principal job at Oliver Ellsworth School in Windsor. Former Salem Elementary School Principal Jennifer Kruge is serving as interim principal at Andrew Avenue.

LaChance said she plans to take a step back at first and meet with parents and teachers to listen and learn. She plans to assess the needs of the school and then formulate goals.

“Collaboration is something I really believe in, leading a team and being on the same page and communicating with parents,” LaChance said. “Redefining what parent involvement looks like in schools.”

LaChance said she believes in open communication, identifying problems and coming up with strategies collaboratively.

“I really want to communicate and teach where students have the ability to self-regulate, to know their strengths and understand their weaknesses so that they utilize that throughout their career,” LaChance said. “I want students to have a high self-esteem so that they’re successful.”

Naugatuck school officials first posted the job opening in June. After screening candidates, officials said they didn’t find the right fit and conducted a second search.

“We’re trying to listen to the voices of the people who have to work with this person every day. It’s really important for us to find the right fit,” Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said. “We want to make sure that the folks in the community and the teachers who work in the school all feel really good.”

Officials say they found the right fit in LaChance.

“She’s an inclusive listener first and a problem-solver. She assured both of the stakeholder groups that she’ll be someone who over communicates. People felt really confident in her ability to step right in and hit the ground running,” Locke said. “She is someone who values relationships and is going to tend to those as they’re doing the work of improving teaching and learning.”

School board Chair Dorothy Neth-Kunin and Vice Chair Ethel Grant echoed Locke’s sentiments.

“Mrs. LaChance developed a connection with Andrew Avenue with her equity work and cultivated a strong community outreach,” Neth-Kunin said.

Grant said, “Mrs. LaChance will continue her holistic approach to relationship building with our students and interactions with parents as they partner to mutually navigate students’ academic and emotional growth.”