By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — After several months as a consultant for Naugatuck Public Schools, Chaka Felder-McEntire is now a member of Naugatuck High School’s administrative team.
The Board of Education in June unanimously appointed Felder-McEntire Naugatuck High’s associate principal. She started her new role July 1.
“My primary goal is the kids, to support all of the students and the school,” Felder-McEntire said. “To support the curriculum work that our students need in order to be successful in the classroom.”
Felder-McEntire, who lives in Prospect with her family, worked for the school district as a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant since February.
Felder-McEntire started her education career in 2003 as a school counselor at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, according to her resume. Over the course of her career, she took on more leadership and administrative roles, including lead school counselor for New Haven Public Schools. She worked as the supervisor of school counseling for Windsor Public Schools until taking the associate principal job at Naugatuck High.
She also co-founded Booker T. Washington Academy, a charter school in New Haven.
She received a bachelor degree in business studies with a concentration in economics and African-American studies from Buffalo State College, and master degrees in counselor education, and organizational communication and development from Canisius College. She received a doctorate in education from Southern Connecticut State University, before earning a diversity and inclusion certification from Cornell University.
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said in a news release that Felder-McEntire “has the proven ability to successfully improve the organizational structures and promote equitable practices in public and private spaces.”
During her time as a consultant, Felder-McEntire helped lead the school district’s equity initiatives. Felder-McEntire said she got to know a great group of people and students through her work in Naugatuck and she wants to continue to help move the borough forward with these initiatives.
Director of Human Resource John Lawlor said 41 people applied for the associate principal position. Felder-McEntire was one of four finalists.
“I was impressed by Dr. Chaka Felder-McEntire’s qualifications, her passion for education and her commitment to Naugatuck,” Board of Education Chairman Jeffrey Litke said. “I look forward to Dr. Felder-McEntire beginning her new role at Naugatuck High School.”
According to the school administrators union contract, the salary for the associate high school principal is $144,275 at the first salary step for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Felder-McEntire is replacing former Naugatuck High associate principal Johnna Hunt. The school board reassigned Hunt, effective July 1, to her former role as principal of Hillside Intermediate School after an investigation into racially charged social media posts made by her daughter. The investigation concluded there was no evidence that Hunt “harbored or expressed racial bias or racist views,” but school officials expressed concerns that she couldn’t be effective as the high school’s associate principal under the circumstances.
Giovanna Testani, who was principal at Hillside, is now a “principal on assignment” and will work with all schools to help manage and implement several grant-funded initiatives, including extended learning opportunities, Lawlor said.