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New Region 1 superintendent hired

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FALLS VILLAGE – Melony Brady-Shanley has been hired as the new superintendent of Region 1 schools to start July 1, to replace Lisa Carter, who is retiring. Brady-Shanley is currently the superintendent of Winchester public schools.

Brady-Shanley, age 45, was attracted to the Region 1 post because of the community atmosphere and pride evident in those connected to the schools, she explained in an interview April 23.

“That was really evident to me that families, students and staff are proud of the system, and that sense of community. That’s something that I really hold true in my current job and I wanted to find a place that had that same value,” she said.

All seven school boards in Region 1 approved hiring Brady-Shanley during special meetings last week and it was announced April 17. Kent’s Jenn Duncan, who chairs the Kent Board of Education and is the town’s representative to the Region 1 Board of Education, was also chair of the Superintendent Search Committee. She said in a statement from the region that the committee took the search process seriously.

“We listened carefully to our many stakeholders who participated in interviews, focus groups, and an online survey. We spread the net wide in our search for candidates and were grateful to have an excellent pool of candidates to choose from. Melony Brady-Shanley stood out as an exceptional candidate and fit for Region 1 and our communities,” Duncan said.

The search process was guided by consultant Mary Broderick of CABE Search Services, which was hired by the region. Perspectives from students, parents, community members and staff were gathered and a leadership profile was created to outline the strengths and challenges of the Region 1 schools. The towns in the region are Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury and Sharon.

Nora Mocarski, who is the chair of the Winchester Board of Education, praised the work Brady-Shanley did in a letter to the Winchester community announcing her departure.

“Seven years ago when the Board first hired Melony, we knew that she was the perfect person to help our community heal from receivership. She has proven to be an inspirational leader and the ‘change agent’ we needed at a critical time in the Town of Winchester. Her deep knowledge of curriculum, assessment, and instruction has yielded increased student performance and an increased pride in our school system. Melony’s fiscal responsibility and background in school construction also put us on a path of reestablishing community trust in the public schools,” Mocarski wrote.

Brady-Shanley said she is extending her driving commute to work from nine minutes to 35 minutes, but she is not concerned. She looks forward to being able to support Housatonic Valley Regional High School and its Agricultural Science and Technology department.

“I am definitely excited to take on supporting the vo-ag program. I, myself, live on a small farm, so that is close to my heart,” she said.

She plans to spend time listening and learning about Region 1 because she does not want to be perceived as arriving with a pre-set agenda. However, she complimented the schools for great programming. Similarities have stood out to her between Region 1 and Winsted, including similar curricula in the elementary schools as well as the structure of the high schools.

“The setup with the Gilbert School, being a quasi-public high school where we send our students, is a very similar to how the regional district is set up in that you’re subscribing to a common high school,” she said.

Well aware of declining enrollment issues in the region’s schools, she said in Winsted they were able to turn that around and have been able to increase enrollment.

“One of the things that we’ve done really well is that our team has brought back students who were seeking enrollment in either private, parochial or magnet school settings. We’ve brought back 90 percent of those students to our district,” Brady-Shanley said.

A graduate of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Brady-Shanley earned a master’s and sixth-year degree in Educational Leadership and a Superintendent Certificate from Central Connecticut State University.

She hopes that there will be a crossover time with Carter to allow them to share information. As with her salary, that still has to be worked out through a contract.

Lynn Worthington
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