New Algonquin principal receives warm welcome

Algonquin School Principal Rima McGeehan mingles during a reception Monday night at the school in Prospect. McGeehan will officially start her job as principal Wednesday. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

PROSPECT — Rima McGeehan’s education career has come full circle.

Two decades ago McGeehan got her start in the field as a student-teacher in Prospect. On Wednesday she will start her first official day as principal of Algonquin School.

“We are so looking forward to her coming,” said Board of Education Chair Priscilla Cretella during a reception at the school Monday night to welcome McGeehan. “She has the knowledge and the enthusiasm to unify the school.”

McGeehan mingled with parents, students, teachers, and school officials for a little over an hour in Algonquin’s gym.

McGeehan said she’s excited for her new position and realizes there’s a lot a work ahead for her. Since she’s starting the job in August, she will only have a few weeks to get to know the building and people before school starts.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m excited for the challenge,” McGeehan said.

McGeehan won’t be the only new face at Algonquin this year. Among the students who came out to meet their new principal was 8-year-old Benjamin Pucci, who came to the reception with his mother, Sue Pucci.

Sue Pucci said her family moved to Prospect in the fall and Benjamin will be attending Algonquin for the first time this year as a third-grader. While the family toured the school during spring break this year, Sue Pucci said she decided to attend the reception with her son to meet McGeehan along with teachers at the school.

She said everyone at the school and in town has been wonderful since the family moved to Prospect. During the reception, once people found out she was new to town, she said, everyone was very welcoming.

The school board hired McGeehan in July, which marked the end to a tumultuous past few months for the prekindergarten through third grade school on Coer Road.

Algonquin had been without a permanent principal since February when former Principal Lynn Patterson was placed on leave pending the outcome of a personnel investigation. The investigation concluded in March and Patterson remained on leave until her retirement June 30.

Algonquin School Principal Rima McGeehan (left) introduces herself to Benjamin Pucci, 8, and his mother Sue Pucci during a reception Monday night at the school in Prospect. McGeehan will officially start her job as principal Wednesday. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Andrea Einhorn, the district’s curriculum director and assistant director of special education, along with Kristin Bernier, assistant principal at Long River Middle School, served stints as interim principal of the school since February and while the district conducted its search for a new principal.

McGeehan was chosen out of a pool of 35 candidates for the position. According to the district’s contract with administrators, the principal at Algonquin earns a base salary of $114,037.

McGeehan graduated from Assumption College in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in social rehabilitation. After graduating from Assumption, she earned a master of arts degree in elementary education in 1994 from the University of Bridgeport and became a fourth-grade teacher at Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury in 1995.

She earned a 6th Year degree in reading in 2000 from Central Connecticut State University and became a reading consultant at Gainfield Elementary School in 2004.

In 2008, McGeehan earned a doctoral degree in instructional leadership from Western Connecticut State University. Since 2008, she has been the principal at the Kent Center School, a prekindergarten through eighth grade school in Kent.

Among the items on the top of McGeehan’s list to do as she begins her job at Algonquin is to reach out to parents.

McGeehan said she will be sending out letters to parents asking them what they value about the school, what they feel are the school’s strong points, and what needs to be improved.

“So, we can work together to make it an even better place,” McGeehan said.