Windermere a good fit for new assistant principal

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Wed., Aug. 21, 2013
Gina Olearczyk brings a variety of experience to her new position as Assistant
Gina Olearczyk brings a variety of experience to her new position as assistant principal at Windermere School. Photo by Steve Smith.

For Gina Olearczyk, the job of assistant principal at Windermere School is not just closer to home, but closer to the type of educational environment in which she is most comfortable working. Olearczyk began as an elementary school teacher in East Windsor and then Coventry. During her nine-year tenure in Coventry, she got her master's and began teaching special education at the high school level before taking the role of curriculum and special education coordinator and getting her administrator's certification.

In 2010, she took a position in East Lyme to be a special education coordinator for pre-K through grade 12. She said she loved that job, but the commute from her home in Enfield became difficult to maintain. She found a similar role in Windsor, where she was until taking the position in Ellington.

“I saw the position come up here, and it’s the first time I’ve had a building-based administrative role,” she said. “The thought of being in one building and to really be able to work on initiatives, student performance, supporting teachers and still having oversight on special education was like the dream job.”

Windermere, being essentially two schools in one (elementary and intermediate), is not at all daunting for Olearczyk because she’s used to district-wide administrative duties at several schools. “It will be interesting to me to see how that runs under one roof,” she said. “I’m excited for that.”

She is also excited about working in Ellington, in general, which she said has a great reputation of dedication to students and support to teachers. She added that in the weeks she’s been in the building she has already seen that support. “I’m ecstatic to be part of a district that’s putting students and teachers first,” she said, adding that the teachers and few students she has met so far have been more than welcoming.

“I’ve never met a staff that has been more welcoming and kind,” she said. “Since I’ve been here, teachers have stopped in and introduced themselves and make a point to have an informal conversation. They are interested in who I am as a person, and not just as a leader.”

Challenges ahead include new teacher evaluations, and the possible shift away from the Connecticut Mastery Test to Smarter Balance assessments (both of which are affecting all districts in the state). “I think the important thing will be to let the teachers know we support them, and to maintain the atmosphere and culture that we have here and not get overstressed about these new things coming in,” she said.

Olearczyk said she hopes her breadth of experience, including at Windsor, which was a pilot district for the new teacher evaluations, will be beneficial to Windermere.

“I think all of those experiences, collectively, will help me support and continue the great work that’s being done here,” she said.

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