Louise Berry, the long-serving Brooklyn faculty superintendent who helped lead the trouble to determine a group faculty in Danielson, died this month on the age of 94.
Berry, a Danielson resident who started her schooling profession as a college nurse on the Killingly Memorial Faculty in 1952 earlier than taking her abilities to the Brooklyn faculty system – the place she labored for the subsequent 58 years – is credited with creating the primary rural Head Begin program within the nation and beginning one of many first early preschool-for-all packages earlier than the idea was nationally embraced.
Berry, who died on July 5, had an extended and diversified profession path that included a time period because the state senator for the twenty ninth District from 1973-75 and a candidate for Secretary of State. Throughout her time within the state Senate, Berry was one in every of solely three lady girls serving in that 36-member physique.
Like many northeastern Connecticut residents, State Sen. Mae Flexer, the Democrat representing the 29th District since 2015, received to know Berry via her work within the Brooklyn district. She stated whereas there are solely nonetheless a small quantity – 9 – feminine state senators presently serving, Berry entrance into the state’s political stage created lasting ripples.
“I think about it was a lot tougher again them, however Louise’s instance made it simpler for folks like me to run and be elected,” Flexer stated. “The remainder of us adopted her.”
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Berry is finest remembered domestically for her 34-year tenure because the chief of the Brooklyn faculty district – a stretch that on the time of her retirement in 2016 marked her because the longest-serving superintendent within the state.
Throughout a celebration the yr she retired, Berry mirrored on her almost six many years within the faculty system as a nurse, steering counselor, director of instruction and district chief.
“Brooklyn has been such a vital a part of my life that it’s exhausting to suppose I’m strolling again east to Killingly as an alternative of staying right here,” she stated. “It’s been my privilege — and I wish to emphasize that — it actually has been a privilege for me – and not directly my youngsters – to work with a variety of the grand folks right here.”
Berry, an alum of the Killingly faculty system, earned a nursing diploma from Adelphi College in 1948 and went on to gather levels in zoology, steering and counseling and schooling administration. She was later admitted to the Connecticut Bar, in line with her obituary.
Brooklyn residents acknowledged Berry’s achievements by dedicating an early childhood schooling middle in her honor and later altering the identify of the highway resulting in the Brooklyn Faculty to Louise Berry Drive.
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Rick Ives labored carefully with Berry throughout his stints as faculty board chairman and first selectman. He stated Berry was a type of uncommon people in a position to sort out a number of commitments concurrently.
“She was extraordinarily essential to Brooklyn – and to me,” Ives stated. “She led that faculty confidently and her emphasis was all the time on the children.”
Berry’s dedication to schooling wasn’t barred by city borders. She and her husband, Richard, who died in 1992, lobbied within the Nineteen Seventies to carry Quinebaug Valley Neighborhood School, or QVCC, into existence, and the pair served on the state Board of Trustees for Neighborhood Faculties with Berry appointed board chairman from 2004-11.
She served on quite a few city, regional and state-level group boards, together with these representing scouting packages, Easter Seals and Day Kimball Hospital. She was an avid UConn soccer and basketball fan who used her saxophone abilities to assist pay her approach via faculty.
James Connelly, who received to know Berry throughout his time as interim superintendent in Killingly and Putnam and as a principal search marketing consultant in Brooklyn, stated the breadth and depth of her skilled accomplishments, whereas astonishing, had been balanced with a beneficiant nature.
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“I first met her in 2001 after I was new to the realm and the place of an interim superintendent,” Connelly stated. “She reached out to me and I thought-about her a mentor and a good friend. She was dedicated to Killingly and Brooklyn. And the work she and her husband did for larger schooling within the northeast nook will be seen at QVCC. She was in a position to carry consideration to a rural instructional space with a laser focus.”
A celebration of life ceremony for Berry might be held at 2 p.m., Aug. 14. Additional info might be accessible at https://www.tillinghastfh.com.
John Penney will be reached at [email protected] or at (860) 857-6965.