NAUGATUCK — Former dean of academic programs at Naugatuck High School Eileen Mezzo, stepped into her new role as the school’s associate principal Wednesday, the day after she was hired by the Board of Education.
“She didn’t waste any time,” Board of Education Chair David Heller said.
Heller said the six board members at the meeting voted unanimously to hire Mezzo after interviewing four candidates for the position.
“I think we would have been very pleased with all four of them,” Heller said, noting that two of the other candidates also lived in Naugatuck.
However, Heller said, Mezzo stood out above the others. She has worked in the district for 21 years, the last seven of which she served as dean of academic programs.
“We’re very excited that she’s going to continue some of the programs and opportunities she’s been spearheading at the high school,” Heller said.
Mezzo is filling the position recently vacated by Jan Saam, who replaced Fran Serratore as principal at the high school. Heller said Mezzo works very well with Saam and he expects the new leadership team to do a great job at the high school.
Board members Jim Jordan and Diana Malone were not able to attend the meeting. Eileen Mezzo’s husband, Mayor Robert Mezzo, who is also a member of the Board of Education, did not participate in the search or vote because of a conflict of interest.
Mezzo said she decided to apply for the position because she felt she was ready to take on more responsibilities after working in the school’s administration for the past seven years.
She said many of her responsibilities as associate principal will be the same as when she was dean of academic programs.
Mezzo will work as a liaison between the middle school and ninth graders, making sure freshman have a smooth transition into high school. She will also be in charge of administering the Connecticut Academic Performance Test for sophomores and curriculum and instruction for grades nine to 12.
“I oversee any of the educational initiatives that we put forth,” Mezzo said. “As associate principal, I will bring over all those responsibilities and I will add some new initiatives.
Mezzo said she has yet to discuss those initiatives with Saam.
Before becoming dean of academic affairs, Mezzo taught special education at Andrew Avenue, Maple Hill School, and City Hill Middle School for about a decade.
“I knew I wanted to teach from the time I was very young,” Mezzo said, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to be an administrator.
Under the urging of Serratore, Mezzo pursued her administrative degree and accepted the role of dean shortly after earning the degree.
Originally from Ansonia, Mezzo said she moved to Naugatuck to be with her husband.
As dean of academic affairs, Mezzo said she put forth various initiatives that have helped improve curriculum and student engagement.
As associate principal, Mezzo said she wants to work to improve school climate and student engagement through professional development for teachers and seeking input from teachers students, and parents to create an action plan.
She said she would test and assess that the action plan produces good results at the school.
Mezzo will make about $117,000 this year as associate principal, up from the $106,000 she would have made from her former position under the school administrators’ contract. Her new position is year-round instead of 10 months, although she will take a six-week maternity leave starting in December when her baby is due, she said.
The school board plans to fill Mezzo’s old position.
The Republican-American contributed to this article.