Calling her a committed administrator and a model of leadership, the city school board head announced the hiring of Dr. Patricia Charles of Westbrook as the new superintendent at a special meeting Tuesday in council chambers.
Interim Superintendent David Larson, who served on Charles' doctoral dissertation committee, said upon introducing her to the board, "not only is she very bright, very beautiful, but she's a great educator."
Larson, who grew up in Fairfield, relayed a telling anecodote about his mother meeting Charles' father many years ago by chance in a doctor's waiting room.
"My 75-year-old mom was sitting next to a gentleman about the same age," Larson said, and they talked about what their children did for work. "'My son just became superintendent of schools in Middletown,'" the elder Larson said.
"'Oh, my daughter just became a principal in Middletown," Charles' father told her. "'My daughter wants your son's job,'" Larson said, which was met with a wave of laughter from all.
"She finally got my job, folks."
Charles expressed her enthusiasm. "It's a real dream come true and I can't wait to get started. People ask me, "Why come back?' Well, I'll tell you, very simply, I care deeply about this community," she said.
"This was my home for 17 years and it's where my grandchildren are going to go to school. And I want it to be the best school system that it possibly can be.
"You will not find anyone who will work any harder on behalf of your students than I will. I promise you that," Charles said.
Charles will take over for , a former Middletown schools head who was hired March 14 to replace , who resigned March 9. She has been superintendent of Westbrook Schools since 2006 and was assistant superintendent of Plainville Community School from 2002-06.
Middletown will remember her as principal of Keigwin Middle School from 1998 to 2002 and Farm Hill Elementary School principal from 1990-98.
"We're thrilled to welcome you back, we know the kind of experienced administrator you are, the kind of commitment you displayed in your time with us, and the kind of leadership that you modeled for us and the kind of personal touch," Charles gave to city schools, said Board Chair Eugene Nocera.
"You bring a united spirit to the community."
Charles serves on the Middlesex Community College Advisory Board, and has been on the Middlesex Couny Substance Abuse Action Council, and the Middlesex Early Childhood Coalition Advisory Board.
Chair Eugene Nocera said principal interviews will be conducted by the Board of Education for and and middle schools: Monday at 6 p.m. for the middle schools and Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the middle schools.