Darien appoints eight new administators at secondary level

The following is a press release from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Brenner

After a nationwide search and comprehensive interview process that included parents, teachers, and administrators, the Darien Board of Education appointed eight new administrators this past month. All will begin in late August in time for the new school year.

“The process to be hired in the Darien Public Schools is rigorous and comprehensive,” said Dr. Susie Da Silva, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. “As a result, I believe that we have hired truly exceptional instructional leaders.”

The recently appointed leaders include two assistant principals and six department chairs - all designated for the middle and high school level. Two administrative positions remain to be filled. The Department Chairpersons are new to the district and are responsible for providing instructional leadership, supervision and articulation in specific content areas.

The new administrators are:

Ms. Kate Dimoulas will join DHS as Assistant Principal. Ms. Dimoulas is replacing Assistant Principal Ellen Spark. Ms. Dimoulas currently serves as a Critical Literacy Coach for the Newtown Public Schools, a position that she has held since 2015. Prior to that role, Ms. Dimoulas taught English at Newtown High School. Ms. Dimoulas’ supervisor wrote, “I have worked with and supervised many fine teachers and aspiring leaders in my 26 years in education. However, Mrs. Dimoulas is one of the finest teacher leaders I have had the good fortune to work with in my career. She is extremely intelligent, collaborative, and professional. Her work with students, staff, and families has garnered her the reputation of being trusted, respected, and admired.”After being appointed, Ms. Dimoulas stated, “I am honored to have been selected to join the incredible team of teachers and leaders inD Darien and greatly looking forward to getting started.”

Dr. Garan Mullin will also join the Darien Public Schools as the Assistant Principal of MMS. Dr.Mullin will replace Assistant Principal Michael O’Neill. Dr. Mullin currently works in the Fairfield Public Schools as the Coordinator for Middle School Special Education. Prior to joining the Fairfield Public Schools, Dr. Mullin worked as a Middle School Guidance Counselor in Westport, CT. During the interview process, Dr. Mullin stated “I am very much looking forward to taking my experience as a district administrator in Fairfield and moving into a building role to work more closely with teachers, students, and families.” Dr. Mullin has been described by her administrators as a “leader of leaders” and an educator who advocates for “the whole child and who identifies strengths and uses a strength-based approach to developing solutions.”

Ms. Maria “Mary” Scalise will return to MMS, this time in the role of Special Education Department Chair. Ms. Scalise has contributed to the Darien school community, both as a school psychologist at the elementary and middle school levels, and in the capacity of a SESS facilitator at Royle Elementary School. Ms. Scalise has been described as “indefatigable in her effort and support for students and families in realizing shared goals. Mary brings with her a depth of knowledge in the area of cognition and instruction that will support students, faculty, and clinicians.” Upon her appointment, Ms. Scalise stated “I look forward to returning to MMS and welcome the opportunity to further support the faculty, students, and families of the Darien community in this leadership position.”

Ms. Kristen O’Reilly will join DHS as the Special Education Department Chairperson. Ms. O’Reilly is currently a special education teacher at Staples High School in Westport, CT. Ms. O’Reilly also has experience teaching at the middle school level in the roles of an academic support and special education teacher. Ms. O’Reilly has been described by her supervisors as “someone who always exceeds already high expectations and proves herself to be an outstanding educator… someone who has an understanding of students with special needs and is dedicated to all students.” Upon

appointment, Ms. O’Reilly shared, “I am excited by the opportunity to serve as the Special Education Department Chair at DHS and look forward to meeting the staff, students, and parents in the coming weeks."

Four familiar names to the DHS community were appointed to the positions of Department Chairpersons this past month. Mrs. Christina Mauricio, World Language; Dr. Felicia Bellows, Mathematics; Mr. Keith Keeler, Social Studies, and Mr. Francis Janosco, English. All four candidates will be returning this fall in the new role of 6-12 Department Chairpersons.

Mrs. Mauricio is currently a Spanish teacher and World Language Coordinator for grades 9-12 at DHS. Mrs. Mauricio has been described as an educator who “possesses the innate ability to set clear and consistent guidelines all the while being a trusted colleague, valued resource, and steadfast advocate for her department. Her likeability, determination, and honesty make her a colleague of great worth and value to the Darien Public Schools.” After being recommended to the position, Mrs. Mauricio shared, “I am looking forward to working with the new administrative team and my colleagues across the district to continue building a first-rate world language program that meets the needs and goals of all students in our community.”

Similarly, Dr. Felicia Bellows, teaches Mathematics at DHS and serves as the Mathematics Department Coordinator for grades 9-12. Dr.Bellows has been described by her administrators as someone who “employs a proactive approach to leadership and teaching, always making informed and well thought-out decisions.” Additionally, “I find working with Dr. Bellows to be a continual exercise in personal growth as her vast background knowledge of pedagogy and her caring nature make her a model to aspire to and a joy to work with. Her intelligence, passion for education, and thoughtful approach to problem-solving will serve her well in this new endeavor.” Felicia shared the following after her appointment, “ I am looking forward to working with the administrative team in my new role as Math Department Chair, 6-12 and am very excited about the opportunity to work

closely with the students, parents, and teachers in both the middle and high school communities.”

Joining his colleagues, Mr. Keith Keeler, Social Studies Teacher at DHS and Department Coordinator will also transition to the new role of Department Chairperson, 6-12. Mr. Keeler is described as “the quintessential educational leader - smart, grounded, hardworking and ethical. Keith’s calm demeanor, impeccable judgment, and compassion for others make him a role model within the school community. He puts students at the center of every decision he makes and his content expertise and exceptional teaching record will serve him well in the role of instructional leader within the 6-12 Social Studies Department of the Darien Public Schools.” Mr. Keeler shared the following after being appointed to the position, “I’m looking forward to the exciting opportunities of this new position. I can’t wait to work with the excellent teachers and administrators, exemplary students, and wonderful families of this district towards continuing to make the social studies interesting, important, and relevant.”

Lastly, Mr. Francis Janosco has been appointed as the English Department Chairperson, 6-12. Mr. Janosco has contributed to the Darien Public Schools in the role of an English teacher at DHS. Mr. Janosco has been described by his supervisors as “an outstanding English teacher who has dedicated himself to promoting the intellectual and emotional growth of his students and all students at Darien High School. Whether it be through breathing life into the Senior Internship Program or establishing a collaborative group to examine a reimagined high school, Francis sees a need and dedicates his full energy, scholarship and intellect to the endeavor. His creativity and vision will invigorate teaching and learning in the 6-12 English Department of the Darien Public Schools.” Upon learning of his appointment, Mr. Janosco shared, “I am excited by the chance to lead a group of talented teachers toward our ultimate goal: putting all students in the best possible position to successfully learn.”