Town says farewell to superintendent

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Thu., Dec. 20, 2012
Outgoing Hebron Superintendent Ellie Cruz speaks with Board of Education Chair Kathy Shea (not pictured) at a farewell reception thrown in Cruz' honor on Dec. 10. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Outgoing Hebron Superintendent Ellie Cruz speaks with Board of Education Chair Kathy Shea (not pictured) at a farewell reception thrown in Cruz' honor on Dec. 10. Photos by Melanie Savage.

There were times, especially during budget season, when things got a bit contentious between Hebron Superintendent Ellie Cruz and some of the residents in town. But on the afternoon of Dec. 10, all of that was put aside as the town held a farewell reception in Cruz’ honor. Her last day in Hebron is Dec. 14, and Cruz begins a new position with Plymouth Public Schools the following Monday.

In a Gilead Hill activity room decorated for the annual holiday concerts, Hebron Board of Education Chair Kathy Shea presided over the event. The formal program, with speeches presented by town officials and others, was scheduled for later in the evening. But as folks drifted in at the close of the school day, Cruz greeted visitors and accepted compliments and well-wishes.

Asked about her proudest achievements during her eight-year tenure in Hebron, Cruz was deferential. “I think anything that was accomplished was accomplished by all the staff, and by the parents and the teachers,” she said. Drawing from conversations with residents, Cruz said the impression she’d gotten was that parents feel they are in a much better place than they were when she’d arrived. “I’m excited about how proud people are of their work and how engaged they are,” she said. “I’m proud of how people are coming together, more and more, to overcome obstacles and challenges.”

Regarding regrets, Cruz referred to challenges presented by curriculum changes handed down from the national and state levels. “I wish I were here to see how they evolve and work in teams,” she said. Regarding developing a sense of what the community wants from and values about education, Cruz said, “It’s time to revisit that conversation, to work with the community on that. I wish I could be here for that as well.” But Cruz expressed confidence in the board chair. “I’m confident that Kathy will keep the town moving forward in the right direction,” she said.

Regarding her new career path, Cruz said that she was excited. Unlike in Hebron, Cruz’ jurisdiction in Plymouth will include middle school and high school students. She said she’d already had the opportunity to engage in conversation with some of the older students in her new town. “I’ve always loved working with older students," said Cruz. "There’s a different level of communication involved, and I’m excited about it.” Cruz said that Plymouth faces different challenges than does Hebron. “But everyone wants the same things: the best education for their children,” she said.

Shea said that Cruz had affected a “dramatic turnaround in the district from where it was eight and a half years ago,” citing both the day-to-day operations of the district and the quality of the staff in place. “She really holds the bar high for herself and her employees,” said Shea. Shea cited Hebron students’ performance on the CMTs as an example. Particularly among third-graders, she said, students had done increasingly well. “We’ll miss her,” said Shea. “Her next district is very lucky to have her come on board and I wish her much luck there.”

Regarding Hebron’s future, Shea said the board had chosen a consultant to assist with the search for a new superintendent. The current plan is to have Acting Superintendent Kathy Veronesi carry the district through the end of the school year. Veronesi is currently working on her superintendent’s certification. Shea said that Veronesi had been shadowing Cruz for a month in preparation for taking control of the district. “I feel [Cruz] is leaving the district in very good shape,” said Shea. “I think Kathy should have a fairly easy transition.” Currently, the plan is to have a permanent superintendent in place by July 1 of 2013.

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