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@example.com or at (860) 857-6965.
The Buffalo Faculty Board is predicted to vote unanimously Thursday night to nominate Tonja Williams as the subsequent superintendent of the varsity district.
Since Williams was appointed interim superintendent in March, she has gained the help and confidence of a rising variety of mother and father, neighborhood leaders and board members. A Buffalo native, she has deep roots locally and a robust community inside the college district.
“She has the traits and the data and the power to maneuver us to the subsequent stage,” Faculty Board Member Sharon Belton Cottman mentioned. “We imagine she is what this district wants.”
About 40 mother and father and different district residents have been requested by Superintendent Tonja Williams and three of her prime directors what they thought was going effectively within the district, what they thought could be one of the best ways for the district to speak with mother and father, and what obstacles they thought have been dealing with the district that might be overcome by working collectively as a neighborhood.
“It’s a unanimous choice by the board,” she added.
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Williams spent a lot of the previous few months assembly with mother and father, college students and neighborhood teams, establishing herself as a humble, compassionate listener open to enter.
That stands in distinction to her predecessor, Kriner Money, who was broadly seen as an outsider with no vested curiosity in Buffalo. Previous to taking the job in Buffalo, he served as an administrator in Miami-Dade County Colleges in Florida after which as superintendent in Memphis. He spent a lot of his time early within the Covid-19 pandemic in his house in Martha’s Winery, drawing criticism from many within the Buffalo Public Colleges for his absence.
Williams grew up in Buffalo, graduating from Riverside Excessive Faculty. She earned a bachelor’s diploma from Medaille Faculty, a grasp’s from Canisius Faculty and a doctorate from St. John Fisher Faculty in Rochester.
She has been employed within the Buffalo Public Colleges since 1990, as a faculty counselor for a decade after which working her means up by means of the executive ranks. She has served because the district’s director of steerage and counseling, as an elementary college principal, as an assistant superintendent, and as an affiliate superintendent.
“We want somebody that believes in our college students, that’s devoted to creating positive the Buffalo Public Colleges can transfer to the subsequent stage, and who might be held accountable by the neighborhood – as a result of they’re house,” Belton Cottman mentioned.
Within the weeks following Williams’ appointment as interim superintendent, some Faculty Board members, whereas voicing help for her, additionally mentioned they thought it was essential to conduct a nationwide search.
On the similar time, although, a rising variety of clergy, Widespread Council members and different neighborhood leaders publicly lauded Williams and declared that the time had come for a hometown candidate.
Since her appointment as interim superintendent, Williams has continued to obtain the identical pay she acquired as affiliate superintendent, $154,000, about half of what Money was paid as superintendent.
Board President Louis Petrucci didn’t reply Wednesday to messages looking for remark. Williams declined to remark previous to the board assembly.
“I don’t wish to be presumptuous,” she mentioned in a textual content message.
On Wednesday, she wrote on Fb that the board on Thursday could be discussing the place of superintendent, and invited individuals to return to the assembly to indicate their help for her.
Reiterating a phrase she has steadily repeated since being appointed interim superintendent , Williams added: “I UNDERSTAND THE ASSIGNMENT!”