BERLIN - Berlin High School has a new principal.
Eileen Eustis, 52, of Farmington, previously an assistant principal at Conard High School in West Hartford, was unanimously appointed by the Board of Education in May and officially took over this week.
“We really wanted to make sure we had an extremely high quality candidate,” said School Superintendent Brian Benigni at the May meeting, “and we just wouldn’t settle.”
Three searches for the person who would replace Francis Kennedy were conducted, Benigni said, beginning last December.
In August 2017, Kennedy announced his retirement that effective June 30, 2018, after being on leave without pay and benefits for a year.
That leave was to allow Kennedy to commit to his decision to retire as a Connecticut public school certified staff member, he said, as he began his new job with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges as associate director of the Commission on Public Schools.
Former Assistant Principal Barbara Ventura filled in as interim principal, with former social studies department head Jeffrey Cronk made an assistant principal to help the other assistant principal, Kelly Maio.
Eustis spent two years as assistant principal at Conard High School, which had 1,456 students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the state Department of Education. Its average SAT scores for that year were 569 for English and language arts and 555 for math.
Before that, she spent 10 years as assistant principal at Simsbury High School, which had 1,412 students in 2016-17. Its SAT scores were 614 for English and language arts and 597 for math.
Berlin High School had 891 students in 2016-17 and its average SAT scores were 534 in English and language arts and 523 in math.
The upcoming school year will be Eustis’ 30th year in education. Before moving into administration she was a middle-school reading, English and math teacher.
A release announcing her appointment said she has worked in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
“The first thing on my agenda is building relationships and getting to know people, because that’s really where all of the work starts so that we can work together,” said Eustis, adding that the community has already made her feel welcome. “I really want to make sure I know the students and the community and the parents really well. I think they have a lot of amazing things in place and it’s really at a point and ready to take off.”
Course offerings and the renovation to the high school were some of those “amazing things,” she said.
She said she is looking forward to an upcoming NEASC review as a way to get a good baseline for the school’s curriculum and programs, which will help her decide which direction she may like to take them.
Eustis, is married to David Eustis, headmaster at Xavier High School in Middletown. She has three children, two who graduated from college this year and one who just completed freshman year in college.
“I really am excited to dig into the work of helping to craft the vision for the high school and work with the curriculum and assessment, and working as a leader with teams of people to really provide the best education possible for students,” she said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.