DARIEN — Students new to Darien can take comfort in knowing they’re not alone. The district hired 65 new staff teachers and three new administrators for this school year, including a new principal for Middlesex Middle School.

Dan Brenner, superintendent of schools, said this hiring season was bigger than usual, due in part to resignations from teachers who can’t afford to live in town and dislike the commute to get to Darien.

“There are several more this year than there were last year,” Brenner said. “I think part of what happens is this is a difficult place for teachers to get to. It’s very expensive real estate, so teachers have to travel usually quite a bit. I think if were trying to assess part of what goes on, the commute becomes onerous. There seems to be a pattern of that over the two hiring seasons I’ve been through.”

At the July 26 Board of Education meeting, Brenner announced Shelley Somers would replace Debi Boccanfuso, who retired in June. Somers was formerly the principal of Central Middle School in Greenwich and previously served as a teacher and administrator for Beaufort Public Schools in South Carolina and as the assistant principal of Hilton Head High School where she oversaw the English and social studies departments.

“Darien is lucky to have the opportunity to hire someone with Ms. Somers’ record of success,” Brenner said. “I am sure, given her experience and wisdom working with middle school children and their parents in Greenwich, that her transition to Middlesex Middle School will be seamless. I am confident that the school and community will embrace her and her leadership style and all she brings as their new principal.”

The district also hired new principals for two of the elementary schools. D,J, Colella is taking over as the principal of Hindley Elementary School after serving as the assistant principal of Somers Middle School in Somers, N.Y.; and Dean Ketchum, former principal of Hunter School in New York City, will be the principal of Royle Elementary School.

Other retirements in the district included Theresa Vara-Dannen, an English teacher at Darien High; Karen Curth, a fourth-grade teacher at Holmes Elementary School; Rosanne Fitzmaurice, a nurse at Darien High School; Gabriel Morrow, a special education teacher at Darien High School. and Barbara Ivey, a secretary at Holmes Elementary School.

The district hired staff to replace retirees, as well as to replace staff members who resigned. It also hired people for three new positions, including a new elementary school teacher at Ox Ridge Elementary School, a new Spanish teacher at Middlesex Middle School and a new special education teacher at the Hindley School in Darien.

At least half of the hires were approved at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. Brenner said they are still getting resignations, but he is confident he will be able to fill all open positions with long-term teachers by the start of the school year next Thursday.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata