Superintendent of Schools Susan Marks has called Marie Allen, who will leave her position as assistant principal of Ponus Ridge Middle School at the end of the year to take the reins as principal of Richard C. Briggs High School, a leader who "has the passion to make sure no child falls through the cracks."
Alaine Lane, outgoing principal of Briggs, said, "I am a tremendous supporter of educating and empowering children, and so is she."
Lane planned to leave the position last year, but ultimately postponed that career move until this year. A committee composed of parent, teacher and administrator representatives filtered through potential candidates for Lane's position this spring, and Marks ultimately recommended Allen to take the helm. The board interviewed Allen and then approved her appointment last month.
With a bachelor of arts in English from Santa Clara University, a master of arts in education from California State University, and a PhD in organizational administration from Claremont Graduate University in California, Allen began her teaching career in Los Angeles in 1977. She has taught grades one through eight and has served as a personnel director and an elementary school principal. She moved from California to Connecticut three years ago, and said she loves New England already.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher," she said. "During high school and college, I worked as a camp counselor and volunteered as a tutor in the schools."
"I enjoy working with the students, staff and administrative team (at Ponus)," she added. "We have wonderful parents that are actively involved in their children's education, and it is a pleasure to support them in any way I can."
Allen explained that while she will serve as head administrator of Briggs, an alternative high school that accommodates a broad range of learning styles and addresses both the academic and social needs of its students, she will always consider herself a teacher.
"It is important to keep abreast of the current teaching strategies and research," she said. "As an administrator who remains actively involved in the classrooms, I am able to support the teachers in addressing the educational needs of their students."
But, Allen admitted, Briggs will afford her new challenges, which she looks forward to embracing.
"It is important to look at each student as an individual," she explained. "Each student comes to school with different qualities and needs. It is my job to guide and support the students in making good decisions and achieving their goals."
And with the new challenges of serving as principal of an alternative high school come new, exciting opportunities.
"Briggs will be a smaller learning community and will afford me the opportunity to develop programs with staff," Allen said. "I know several of the students and they are wonderful young ladies and gentlemen. I have high expectations for them all and I am positive that they all will do well."
"Mrs. Lane and the staff have done an exceptional job at Briggs. The staff is very dedicated and I am looking forward to working with them and the parents. I am looking into exciting programs and partnerships that will assist the students in having a positive high school experience that will carry on into their professional careers."
"The kids and the teachers all tell me she's a great choice," Lane said. "She has the right personality, the right background, the knowledge. I'm very, very happy."
Lane said she would like to see Allen build upon some of the initiatives -- a dynamic partnership with Norwalk Community College and the Briggs afterschool program, for example -- she has supported over the past nine years as principal of the high school.
"It's great to have someone who knows Norwalk, who has been here for a few years, who knows the community," Marks said.
"Alaine Lane has done a great job in not only supporting education, but the other needs of the Briggs students. We hope Doctor Allen will take it to the next level."