Darien schools welcome new assistant superintendent
The Addley-Tranberg team in Granby has reunited — in Darien.
Christopher Tranberg, a Simsbury resident who had been the assistant superintendent of schools in Granby for four years, is Darien Public Schools’ new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, prekindergarten-12th grade.
Tranberg began his new job Monday, replacing Susie Da Silva, who has taken a position as superintendent of schools in Ridgefield.
Tranberg is a Ph.D. candidate in educational leadership, policy, and administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He’s currently in the final stages of writing his dissertation, and should finish by late spring.
Prior positions he’s held include: principal of Avon High School, assistant principal of Simsbury High School, and director of performing arts in Simsbury.
Tranberg said one of the reasons he was drawn to Darien is it has “arguably the best public education systems in the state.”
A second reason he said he chose Darien is to get the chance to work with Superintendent of Schools Alan Addley, who he worked for in Granby for three years and who joined Darien schools last year.
“The combination of the Darien school system and the superintendent is a wonderful start and the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “We work together very well, respect each other professionally, and we knew we would work together again if the opportunity presented itself.”
Addley said he’s excited to welcome Tranberg to Darien Public Schools.
“I welcome Mr. Tranberg as a member of the Cabinet knowing that he brings diverse PK-12 experiences and expertise to the district,” Addley said. “He will be a wonderful resource for the staff.”
Addley continued: “Mr. Tranberg is a highly respected administrator and I know he passionately looks forward to contributing to Darien’s reputation for excellence. I look forward to working closely with Christopher again in his new capacity.”
According to Tranberg, one of the issues he was hired to address in Granby schools is the “achievement gap.”
“There was a disparity in performance and participation when comparing our Granby resident and nonresident students —and when comparing performance and participation — when comparing special education student to performance, to that of their typical peers,” he said.
In Tranberg’s first year in Granby, he put together an equity team, “which was and still is a guiding coalition for the district in addressing issues of inequity,” he said.
The group is made up of parents, students, teachers administration and Board of Education representation, and together they look to find specific ways they can address inequities in the district.
“The places we looked were looking to increase minority teacher recruitment, or taking action to address the disparities in performance between groups of students. The group researched and made recommendations to support the principals and the district,” Tranberg said.
He added that he “successfully wrote a grant that supported the work, and launched the work.”
The group is still going on now and will continue to, indefinitely, according to Tranberg.
“Establishing something that lives on after you is a key to leadership,” he said.
Effects of pandemic
Tranberg said his first challenge with regard to his new position is dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Initially, as I start this new position, the immediate work will be the healing that comes from an irregular school year,” he said.
“I will have a nontraditional start and a nontraditional first year. The entire school administration will be figuring things out together to see what the community actually needs,” Tranberg added. “It will be a lot of collaborate work.”
Tranberg started the strings program for the Granby school district. There had been no strings program prior to this.
“One of the hallmarks of a strong arts department is the strings component, and it was something that was missing in Granby,” Tranberg said.
He added that the strings program is very “innovative” because it provides full class instruction so all students in grades K-3 have a group violin lesson every single week,” he said.
Students in that age group have double music instruction — a general music class and the strings music class. This program is now in its second year and will continue, according to Tranberg.
He said that two factors were responsible for helping him get the strings program started in Granby. One is having a superintendent who was “incredibly supportive” of the arts. The other is the district had done an arts audit, and one of the recommendations from that audit was to increase the instructional time in music.
Impact of music
Tranberg said music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
In the musical production of Oliver Twist in the third grade at Old Mill Elementary School in Wall Township, N.J., he played Fagin — one of the lead roles.
“When you’re part of the theater world, you experience community like no other time in life, and I got that right away as a third grader,” he said.
He continued: “The theater welcomes everyone. Whether on or off stage, everyone has a role and the show looks different if any individual player isn’t there. Everyone that is there has something in common. That is the clear shared goal of the time together. As a result, you can be who you are and everyone that is part of a production needs each player to be successful.”
Throughout college, Tranberg was a voice major with a piano minor.
“I can tell already that Darien schools is a very music and arts culture community, so I’m excited about that,” he said.