In just four months, Interim Principal Mark F. Proffitt has so significantly turned around the elementary that once made headlines for its seclusionary practices — that the PTA president was moved to a tearful speech at the last board of education meeting.
Apryl Dudley's letter to the mayor early this year set off a chain of events that led to the state house bill HB 5347 that would require the State Board of Education to report annually on how often physical restraint and seclusion on children are used in schools. Earlier this months, she held up artwork, read from student letters, and personally testified to Proffitt's exceptional work with the Farm Hill School community in so short a time.
Dudley's speech so moved BOE member Sheila Daniels that she left her seat and stood beside her, with her hand upon Dudley's waist.
The Middletown Board of Education Wednesday announced it had hired Richard Henderson as principal of . Henderson has been a principal and assistant principal in the Plainfield Community Consolidated School District in Plainfield, Ill., since 2007. Prior to that, he was Learning Lab Director in the school district.
Board of Education Chair Gene Nocera is pleased. “We are certainly fortunate to be able to hire such an accomplished leader for Farm Hill Elementary School."
Proffitt will retire "officially" on June 29. "But, he says, "I will be working a day each week in July, and then certainly more days in August as I assist the new principal with his transition to Farm Hill School.
"Farm Hill School is my family, and I will do all that I can to assist the new principal in transitioning to this great community."
That's not just lip service.
"I hope [Henderson] has his running shoes on, for I have planned a lot of meetings, tours of the neighborhoods, schools, etc. I will enjoy doing all of this for the Farm Hill School community," Proffitt says.
Proffitt returned to educational leadership in February as the interim principal, taking over for Patricia Girard, who took a leave of absence for family reasons last week. "It's business as usual. It's day one," said Proffitt, 53, in February, a former special education teacher at Keigwin Middle School.
Proffitt, who holds a masters degree, graduated from Southern Connecticut State University and became a special education teacher in Wallingford in 1980. He also has taught in the Cheshire school system. He lives in Southington with his wife, a first-grade teacher in Torrington. His own children are grown — 25, 26 and 28.
Henderson began his career as an elementary school teacher in Regional School District 14 in Woodbury, Connecticut, where he served from 2000-06. He was also an elementary teacher intern in the Shelton school district during the 1999-2000 school year. He is a graduate of Fairfield University and holds a J.D. degree from Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
Henderson will begin in August.