BEACON FALLS — Woodland Regional High School has a new lead Hawk in the nest.
The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, announced Wednesday that Kurt Ogren, 44, has been appointed the school’s principal.
“I’m looking forward to getting started and appreciative of the opportunity,” said Ogren, who lives in Seymour.
Ogren is replacing former Principal Arnold Frank, who retired in June but has been serving as interim principal. Frank was the school’s first and only principal since it opened in 2001.
“From what I hear I have very big shoes to fill,” Ogren said. “He was very well liked and did a great job.”
Ogren’s first day on the job is Tuesday. He will be working with Frank for a couple days to ease the transition. His salary will be $134,006.
For the past eight years, Ogren has been working as provost, similar to an associate principal, at West Haven High School. He was an assistant principal at the school from 2003 to 2005 and a health and physical education teacher prior to that.
“The Board of Education and I are confident that Kurt Ogren will be an excellent addition to the administrative leadership team in Region 16 and will be a strong and effective educational leader at Woodland Regional High School,” Superintendent of Schools Tim James said in a press release announcing the hire.
The board received 23 applications for the principal position. One was removed because it was incomplete, according to James.
A selection team, comprised of parents, Woodland teachers, administrators, noncertified staff and school board members, screened the applications an whittled them down to six semifinalists. Five semifinalists were interviewed by the team, because one had accepted another job, James said. Along with the interview, semifinalists had to respond to a writing exercise.
Three finalists were selected and the full board interviewed them Monday.
“[Ogren] clearly at the end of the process was the unanimous choice of the Board of Education,” James said.
James said Ogren’s experience is what made him stand out from the other candidates. In particular, James pointed out that Ogren has served on the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Steering Committee and the PowerSchool implementation team during his time in West Haven.
Woodland is currently working on getting its NEASC accreditation and the district is implementing PowerSchool, a web-based student information system, this school year.
James added that Ogren was a nominee for the 2008 Connecticut Association of Schools/National Association of Secondary Schools High School Assistant Principal of the Year award. Ogren was also honored this year by the city of West Haven, Connecticut General Assembly and U.S. Congress for his community service efforts.
Over the years, running has emerged as one of Ogren’s favorite hobbies. Ogren said he’s run in about 25 marathons, including some for charity. He’s run to raise money for the Fisher House in West Haven, the Wounded Warrior Project as well as for a student with leukemia and a recent West Haven High graduate who was wounded while serving in Afghanistan, he said.
“It’s rewarding to do things like that,” said Ogren about his charity efforts.
As Woodland’s principal, Ogren said he plans to be involved with the communities of Beacon Falls and Prospect as well.
Ogren grew up in Hamden and graduated from Hamden High School. He said he’s always enjoyed going to school and his parents highly valued education. It wasn’t until his last year at Springfield College when he knew education was the career for him, though.
At the time, Ogren said, he was interning at the U.S. Navel Academy in Annapolis, Md. as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. As part of his internship, he did some teaching in a classroom.
“I said, ‘This is something I’d like to do,’” Ogren said.
The opportunity to inspire students to reach their full potential is what Ogren said attracted him to a career in education.
Ogren graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in health and fitness. He went on to earn his master’s degree in health education with a teaching certificate and a sixth year certificate in educational leadership from Southern Connecticut State University.
Ogren said he knew very early on in his career he wanted to go into administration, and he enjoys the team-building aspect of being an administrator.
“You’re still teaching, just teaching in a different way,” Ogren said.
Ogren said he applied for the Woodland job because he’s ready to take the next step in his career. However, he didn’t just send out applications to any and all principal positions.
Orgen said he researched and targeted schools. Woodland, he said, impressed him. Particularly “The Woodland Way,” a philosophy the school follows on five ways to carry oneself, such as being truthful and responsible caught his attention.
“I was so impressed by that and said, ‘That’s the place I’d like to be,” Ogren said.
Ogren said he’s looking forward to continuing to build on Woodland’s success.
“I’m looking forward to every day. I’m passionate about education,” Ogren said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new students and staff. I’m looking forward to building a school full of leaders.”