CHESHIRE — Classes for the town’s public school students don’t start until three weeks from now.
But recently hired Doolittle Elementary School Principal Amy O’Brien is already settling into her new role. On Tuesday afternoon, the school was open for families to meet their new principal.
“I’m ready to go,” O’Brien said, just before families began to file into the school’s library, where the meet-and-greet was taking place.
O’Brien, a Cheshire resident who had been principal at Ansonia’s Mead School before her arrival at Doolittle, was soon chatting with parents and their students, shaking hands as they walked into the library.
Seven-year-old Kaylie Plourde, brought a welcome gifts. O’Brien unwrapped the gifts, which included a potholder Plourde had crafted and a picture she had drawn.
“This is beautiful,” O’Brien said.
Kelly Plourde said her daughter is excited school will be resuming.
“She told me yesterday she misses school,” Kelly Plourde said.
In addition to having a new leader, Doolittle is undergoing some building renovations, including improvements to the school’s restrooms. Signs those projects are ongoing were on display, with buckets, ladders, boxes and other items lining the hallway, which led from the entrance to the library.
The youngest participants in the meet-and-greet appeared to delight in the evening’s food and beverage offerings — which included plates filled with cookies, brownies and bite-sized candy bars, and lemonade and iced tea to wash them down.
Town Manager Sean M. Kimball, a parent of an incoming Doolittle third grade student, was among the first to walk into the library to say hello.
Cheryl Roome, a parent with a child entering second grade, said she wanted to attend the event in support of their new principal.
“She seems really nice, very friendly,” Roome said.
Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Solan was among those who attended. He also expressed optimism about the leadership O’Brien will bring to Doolittle.
“She’s a tremendous hire,” Solan said. “We’re really excited about her. Ms. O’Brien brings a lot of experience with elementary grades, including middle school… She brings a really positive attitude. I’m sure she will be a fresh start for Doolittle.”
O’Brien succeeds former Doolittle principal Russell Hinckley, who Solan said had stepped down to resume his previous duties as a special education teacher. Solan said Hinckley’s new position will focus on the district’s elementary school transition programs and he would be splitting time between several different buildings.
Hinckley steps down after what had been a challenging year at Doolittle. Those challenges included the suicide of an 11-year-old student last December. The death led to questions and forums about bullying and fostering a safe school climate at the school.