New Voluntown Elementary principal brings strengths in math, technology

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Voluntown - posted Mon., Aug. 12, 2013
Alycia Trakas is the new principal of Voluntown Elementary School. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Alycia Trakas is the new principal of Voluntown Elementary School. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

Alycia Trakas says her mother always told her she should be a teacher, but her career path led her instead through a bachelor’s degree in marketing to a job at a medical software company. A year into that job, she found herself longing for the early childhood center in Plainfield, where she had volunteered while a student at UConn. 

“I missed working with kids,” she said. “They always made me feel young. There’s never a dull moment. Every day is a new day.”

Her career path thus took a sharp turn, one that led her to the helm of Voluntown Elementary School, where she’s the newly-appointed principal. “I should have listened to my mother. She always knows best,” Trakas said.

Trakas was hired to replace Alicia Dawe, who opted to return to the Stonington district for an administrative position after a year at VES.  Voluntown Superintendent of Schools Adam Burrows said the search committee that hired Dawe was essentially re-assembled to seek her replacement - a task it completed in about six weeks.

“We moved very, very quickly,” he said. “It’s like she’s been here forever, in terms of fitting in and bringing in a wealth of knowledge.  I’m really appreciative of all the things she stepped in and helped out with.”

Trakas, a Plainfield native, comes to Voluntown from Canterbury, where she served as a math interventionist for grades five through eight at Dr. Helen Baldwin Middle School. She spent two years in a similar position as a middle school numeracy interventionist at Old Saybrook, and also worked in Colorado as a math teacher after receiving her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Denver. She recently earned her sixth year administrative certificate from Sacred Heart University.

“I grew up in a small town and I really like the small-town feel,” Trakas said. Voluntown’s history of strong community bonds and mutual support through adversity appealed to her. “Why would I not want to work here? It’s a perfect place,” she said.

Always comfortable with numbers, Trakas said she’s “looking to bridge the gap between my business side and the love of learning.” Since her July 1 hiring date, she has attended Board of Education meetings, met many staff members and been busy with the behind-the-scenes projects, such as summer school, that characterize the supposed “summer vacation” for school personnel.

Part of her job will be facilitating the final year of transition to the new Common Core curriculum model, which replaces the Connecticut Mastery Test format in the state’s schools. “All the staff has worked very hard creating units based on the Common Core,” Trakas said. She expects to see a smooth transition, given Voluntown’s history of academic excellence. Her high comfort level with numbers and background in accounting, coupled with a background in curriculum, make it “easy for me to look at data and analyze it, and use it so we can grow," she said.

Burrows added that Trakas is “very knowledgeable about technology and the role technology plays in education.” That will be a plus, he said, since the district’s adherence to Common Core standards will be evaluated by computer.

Trakas plans to attend the Sunday, Aug. 25, Voluntown farmers’ market outside VES from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. so she can meet town residents.

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