WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education has hired Enzo Zocco, associate principal of Newington High School, as the next principal of Sheehan High School.
Zocco will replace longtime principal Rosemary Duthie, who announced last month she will retire Aug. 10 after 18 years as the school’s principal.
The board unanimously voted to hire Zocco Monday night after conducting final interviews with two candidates – Zocco and Sheehan Assistant Principal Justin Marciano. Marciano was hired at Sheehan in 2014 after teaching at North Haven High School for nine years. He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night.
“In the end, we had extremely strong candidates and it was really difficult,” school board chairwoman Roxane McKay said, “but we came to the conclusion that Mr. Zocco would be the best person to lead the Sheehan educational community going forward.”
Zocco comes to Wallingford with 13 years of experience as a high school administrator. He has been the associate principal of Newington High School, with over 1,200 students, since 2008 and was assistant principal of Lyme-Old Lyme High School for three years before that. Zocco taught social studies for eight years in Ellington and Hartford prior to becoming a high school administrator.
“He clearly understands the importance of educational rigor and clearly has a passion for high school students,” McKay said.
Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Cindy Lavalette said Zocco showed an “understanding of the academic, social, and emotional needs of students” during the interview process. She added Zocco’s “emphasis on the importance of building relationships with students, families and staff, gave the board confidence that he will be an exceptional leader at Sheehan.”
Zocco said he hopes to apply past experiences at Sheehan.
“I hope to bring some fresh new ideas to Sheehan, but I also want to learn from the staff members and students at Sheehan,” he said Tuesday. “It’s definitely a balance of both.”
Sheehan, one of two high schools in town, has an enrollment of about 800 and a total staff of just over 80.
Zocco said his “most important” task will be developing positive relationships and trust with the school community.
“I’m very excited to join the Wallingford school community,” he said. “I have a great desire to work with the students, staff and families and work collaboratively to build a positive relationship.”
Zocco was attracted to the Wallingford position, in part, because of similarities he saw between the Wallingford and Newington communities, including the size of the school systems.
“I think it will make for a smooth transition to Wallingford, but I also know that Wallingford is a unique community,” he said.
Lavalette said Wallingford is working with Newington to determine Zocco’s start date, which Zocco expects will come before the first day of school on Aug. 27. He will earn a starting salary of $146,963, according to Lavalette.
A “meet and greet” event will be planned to give the community a chance to meet and welcome Zocco, Lavalette said.