Familiar face to serve as interim Andrew Avenue principal

Former Salem Elementary School Principal Jennifer Kruge looks over books with students in 2014. Kruge, who retired after the end of the 2017-18 school year, has been appointed interim principal at Andrew Avenue Elementary School in Naugatuck.–FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — As the search for the next principal of Andrew Avenue Elementary School continues, officials have turned to a familiar face to lead the school in the interim.

Former Salem Elementary School Principal Jennifer Kruge will serve as interim principal at Andrew Avenue until a permanent principal is in place. She will be paid a daily rate of $546.46, which is the 2019-20 daily rate for elementary principals, Human Resources Director John Lawlor said.

Kruge retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year after nearly 20 years as principal at Salem Elementary. She began her career in 1979 as a special education teacher in Naugatuck and worked at several schools in the district before becoming principal.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said she’s very confident Kruge, who called and offered to serve as interim, will ensure the school year starts off smoothly at Andrew Avenue until the search for a new principal is finished. The first day of school is Aug. 28.

Taran Gruber resigned as principal at Andrew Avenue in June to take the principal job at Oliver Ellsworth School in Windsor. Naugatuck school officials first posted the job opening in June.

Locke said the district had highly-qualified candidates for the position but didn’t find the “best right fit” for the Andrew Avenue.

After a review of the candidates by stakeholders, Board of Education Chair Dorothy Neth-Kunin said it was determined that a second round of applicants was needed. She said the first posting took place in the middle of the summer and the feeling was perhaps a second round would present a different pool.

“It is not uncommon to go a second round when looking for the right candidate to lead a school with our smallest citizens,” Neth-Kunin said.

Locke said elementary principals are extremely important positions in a school district.

“They set the tone for the children’s first experience with school, so we want to take the time to make sure we have the exact right person for the Andrew Avenue community,” she said.

The latest job posting for the position closed Aug. 7 and officials are reviewing applicants.

Locke said she hopes to have a candidate to present to the Board of Education at its September meeting, if not sooner.