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Bringing families into the fold is a priority for Linden Elementary School Interim Principal Phil Sanders, who will be continuing in that role through the next school year.
"I really believe that the family is an essential part of school success. I have to have the parents on board, I have to have their buy in," said the 23-year veteran of the district.
Through events at Linden such as the Family Fest, choir concerts and the celebration for fifth graders leaving for middle school, Sanders has been working on re-establishing relationships with the community centered around the school.
Sanders has been standing in as the interim principal since April, when his predecessor Paula Eshoo went on leave for an unspecified reason before retiring in June. He had previously been filling in for Melissa Orfitelli, assistant principal of Linden Street School and the Middle School of Plainville, when she went on maternity leave in December.
Citing the difficulty of having one individual as the assistant principal of two schools, the decision was made to have Orfitelli serve as just the assistant principal at MSP and having Linden’s head teacher pick up the administrative work she did there.
Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett said Sanders has been settling into the new job well, with teachers at Linden feeling well supported under his leadership.
“He’s done a great job as interim principal for these last few weeks of school,” she said.
Sanders said five years as the district’s elementary math and science instructional coordinator prepared him well for jumping into being principal. When the Next Generation Science Standards were unveiled, he visited each elementary classroom to help guide teachers in adjusting to the shift.
Leading a school is still a major adjustment, though, with decisions needed on issues from across the school and a broad perspective needed to address them all.
"It's like looking at one grape, versus looking at an orchard of grapes,” Sanders said. "I find it to be very challenging and very engaging. I have to think about the whole scope of the building and always, always, always keeping in mind and focus on what's best for the students … as long as I have been able to keep the vision of the student in my mind, I've been able to make good decisions based on what's best for the student.”
Sanders is looking forward to continuing those efforts next year.
"I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be the interim for the next year,” he said. “I'm looking forward to the challenges, I'm looking forward to the successes that we will see at Linden. And working with the staff and working with the parents and the kids and really building those relationships, and all for the betterment of their kids' educational process.”