The Amity Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Kathy Burke as the Orange Amity Middle School’s next principal. Burke comes to Amity from Helen Keller Middle School in Easton, where she currently serves as the assistant principal. Prior to her six years in Easton, she was a mathematics and history teacher and instructional coach at Rochambeau Middle School in Southbury. A graduate of Excelsior College, Burke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies. She earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Bridgeport in Education and is awaiting her Sixth Year Certificate in Educational Leadership from the University of Bridgeport.
Before entering executive session to receive the superintendent’s recommendation for principal at a March meeting, Board of Education Chairman William Blake said, “Unfortunately Mrs. Fuller-Cutler is leaving us at the end of the year and she will be greatly missed. We do need to continue to operate at the Orange Middle School under the enlightened and kind and warm leadership Kathi has shown over the years. We’re going to try to find someone who we think can continue to do that.”
When interviewing for the position, Dumais kept in mind that Amity Regional Middle School Orange is the first step that nearly 50% of Amity students take when entering the district. He sees the middle school as setting the groundwork for a plethora of experiences and opportunities that are available to Amity students.
“The school’s leadership has been strong and steadfast in developing a culture that welcomes students and their families to the Amity educational experience. Our priority in this selection process was to augment the existing team with an individual who would help us unearth opportunities to expand on the successes that we have had and foster an environment of growth and learning for all students,” Dumais shared with the board when making his recommendation.
The position attracted more than 50 qualified applicants. All of the applications were screened by the superintendent and a hiring consultant (a former superintendent very familiar with Amity). Seven applicants were selected to be interviewed by a committee of district teachers, a student, and a parent. Working with the consultant, the school/community-based committee developed questions and scenarios that best represented the strengths and growth areas of Amity, based on solicited feedback from the staff, students, parents, and community.
Three semifinalists were selected by the committee to advance to a round of individual interviews with district administrators, central office personnel, and the teachers’ union president. All three semifinalists were interviewed by the superintendent. A site visit, including interviews with parents, students, staff, and administration, was conducted for the single finalist. During the site visit, students indicated that Burke is “fair, hard-working and always willing to help you,” according to Amity Superintendent Charles Dumais. Parents said that she “understands the kids and wants to help find solutions,” while staff said that she has “a strong academic eye and is a pleasure to work with,” and the administration indicated that she is a “strong curriculum leader with a tremendous respect for the middle school student”.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent