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Luizzi excited about interim superintendent role

Updated 10:30 am, Thursday, June 26, 2014
  • Principal Bryan Luizzi works in his office Monday, June 23, 2014, at New Canaan High School , in New Canaan, Conn. Luizzi is replacing retiring Superintendent of Schools Mary Kolek July 1 as an interim superintendent. Photo: Nelson Oliveira / New Canaan News
    Principal Bryan Luizzi works in his office Monday, June 23, 2014, at New Canaan High School , in New Canaan, Conn. Luizzi is replacing retiring Superintendent of Schools Mary Kolek July 1 as an interim superintendent. Photo: Nelson Oliveira

 

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As the New Canaan school district watches another transition in its central office with the retirement of Superintendent of Schools Mary Kolek, her replacement says he's here to stay.

"I think we'll be able to do some great things together, in the next year and hopefully in the years ahead of that," New Canaan High School Principal Bryan Luizzi said. "What I expect is that I'll get into the role and I'll love it."

Luizzi will serve as New Canaan Public Schools' interim superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. The Board of Education plans to resume its search for a permanent superintendent in the fall.

The 43-year-old educator, who might be one of the youngest superintendents the district has seen, hopes to continue in the years ahead as a permanent superintendent.

"I'll be putting my heart and soul into doing the best that I can do in the superintendency," he said. "I'm hoping the New Canaan Board of Education and the entire community feel like it's a good fit."

Luizzi, who lives in Brookfield, began his career at Newtown High School as an English teacher. He progressed through a number of administrative positions in the Brookfield school system, culminating in his appointment as the principal of Brookfield High School, a position he held for five years before coming to New Canaan in 2011.

Luizzi, who also served briefly as the manager of technological operations for Newtown Public Schools, said one of his biggest passions is technology.

"That's something that I've always been interested in, even as a classroom teacher in the '90s as I was finding ways to integrate the Internet, websites and digital portfolios into the classroom," Luizzi said.

Luizzi said he's excited for the technology infrastructure upgrades New Canaan's high and middle schools are getting this summer. The approximately $500,000 project will result in one wireless access point per two or three classrooms.

"I think that will put us on firm footing for the work that we should be doing going forward," he said. "As we go through these upgrades, I think we'll be in a very good place."

Luizzi added that, ultimately, technology "is not what the teachers do, it's how the students use it to learn."

"That's the shift that we'll be poised to make once the infrastructure is all upgraded," he said.

Though it is not as common for a principal to become a superintendent as is for a central office administrator, Luizzi said his career, education and relationships with New Canaan's administrators have prepared him for the job.

"Although I've been here for only three years, I think there's a pretty strong feeling that I'm in tune with what's happening in the district, that I'm a part of some pretty significant initiatives that we have and certainly that I'm committed to the vision going forward," he said.

Board of Education Chairman Hazel Hobbs said she looks forward to working closely with Luizzi, whom she called an intelligent and thoughtful leader.

"He nurtured and enhanced the ethic of caring, scholarship, service and leadership for every student and faculty member," she said. "Personally, he is approachable, puts people at ease, cares about children."

Hobbs said Luizzi also is a good listener and "handles crises calmly."

Luizzi completed his doctorate in education management at Teachers College of Columbia University in 2006. He also has taught as an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University and at the University of Connecticut.

Though he is eager to take on the superintendent role, Luizzi said it's going to be "a bittersweet transition."

"I've been a high school principal for eight years, so as I look around I get a little sentimental," he said. "The greatest joy I have as a high school principal is the interaction with students. Working with them, laughing with them. I'll miss that relationship."

One of the key issues Luizzi will have to deal with in his new role is a potential consolidation of services with town departments. In light of new legislation encouraging more cooperation between boards of education and town departments when dealing with noneducational services, the first selectman and an ad hoc committee have asked the Board of Education to consider a number of areas where cost efficiencies would result if merged. Besides information technology and building maintenance, other services the committee suggested merging were finance, school security, human resources and health insurance coverage.

Luizzi noted the idea of educational services versus noneducational services is "the big question on the discussion." When it comes to technology, for instance, he said the schools' staff has different priorities that must be considered.

"The functions are not of a traditional help desk," he said. "If a teacher's projector isn't working on a random Tuesday, for us that's a `code red;' it's an emergency. We need to go fix that because there are students in that classroom who may not be getting that instruction that day, and time is a limited resource for us."

Luizzi also said he's afraid potential consolidations may result in increased job responsibilities for the district's staff.

"Our staff is working flat out," he said. "If we were to add another building in or add other things, we wouldn't have more staff because the way they're going now, they're working nonstop."

Assistant Principal Veronica LeDuc will replace Luizzi at the high school as interim principal for the 2014-15 school year.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson