Superintendent's Newsletter

November 2017

Engage. Empower. Thrive.

As we head into the holiday season I would like to let all of you know how very grateful I am to be a part of this community and to know that with my leadership team, faculty and staff we are influencing the lives of your children. You and your children teach us so much and enrich our lives every day. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions about your child or anything that happens in our schools, please reach out.

Over the course of the past year a team of school personnel, Board of Education members, parents and community members worked together under the guidance of Jonathan Costa, Educational Specialist to re-write our mission statement and create a strategic coherence plan that would guide our work as we move into the future. The contribution to this process by each member of this team was invaluable and appreciated. (Members of the team are listed at the end of this newsletter.) Our newly created mission statement is, “Through engagement in authentic learning all Regional School District 13 students are empowered to thrive and contribute as global citizens.” As a team we felt strongly that this mission represented our promise to the students in our district as well as our commitment to support their impact on the world-at-large. One of the hallmarks of RSD 13 is our sense of community both within the school district and within our two towns. We see this in so many areas especially in the way that our students interact and support each other. With our mission statement we identified the guiding beliefs that influence the decisions we make and how we work and interact with one another. The four guiding beliefs are:

  • Our core ethical values of respect, responsibility, kindness, honesty, and courage are the foundation of our beliefs.
  • Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication are essential for success.
  • All members of the community contribute to the well-being of others.
  • Learning and growth require the willingness to take risks throughout one’s life.

From there we identified three goal areas which have been our focus areas for the past two years:

  • Student Achievement: Ensure an authentic learning environment that supports growth, innovation and critical thinking so that all students are successful in life, learning and work beyond school.
  • Engagement: Ensure community understanding, engagement and support for district goals and priorities.
  • Well-Being: Sustain a district-wide culture and climate that supports and promotes well-being for all.

My goals and the goals of my administrative team are based on these district goals and each school has created a School Learning Plan that supports the acquisition of the goals by identifying time bound, measurable outcomes.

During the month of December we will be asking you to assist us by taking a survey which will be used to help improve district communication.

Utilization Update

The Board has agreed to have the architectural and engineering firm Silver Petrucelli and Associates examine how best to use our existing school buildings and address the impact of declining enrollment. The previous approach of moving to two elementary schools Pre-K-5 and K-5 which would require extensive renovations was tabled with a revised approach to examine accommodations rather than renovations of the existing buildings. The process of examining grade configurations and program design is underway. The current and projected enrollment indicates that four school buildings could accommodate our students now and in the projected future.

The Board of Education is committed to maintaining fiscal responsibility while providing a high quality education to our students; examining the use of our schools is one of the steps in this process.

The Town of Durham has continued to indicate to the Board of Education that it is interested in acquiring the Korn School building. Conversations are on-going regarding this matter.

12th Annual Community Round-Up

On Saturday, December 2nd from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. teams made up of students, teachers, parents and community members will be collecting non-perishable items, canned goods, donations, and gift cards that will be used to fill the Durham and Middlefield food pantries. Food items are also delivered to the Amazing Grace food pantry in Middletown. Last year 14,602 food items and over $2,785 in cash and gift cards were collected!

For more information, please contact Kathy Bottini, Melissa Cook or Rebecca Sinusas at (860) 349-7255.


On Saturday, December 9th the Strong School Gymnasium will be officially renamed as the Benchwarmers Gymnasium. This decision was made last year by the RSD 13 Board of Education based upon a request by local citizens and former Benchwarmers. A reception will be held for invited guests at 3:00 p.m. with a dedication ceremony open to all at 3:45 p.m. All current and former players in attendance will be acknowledged at the dedication ceremony.

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Charlotte Planeta and Alexander Stephan pose with Mr. Falcone and Dr. Veronesi after receiving the Superintendent Award

Strategic Coherence Planning Team

Board of Education

Mr. Robert Moore, Chairman

Dr. Andrew Taylor

Mr. Philip Augur


Dr. Kathryn Veronesi, Superintendent

Mrs. Amy Emory, Pupil Personnel Director

Ms. Maryellen Manning, Director of Organizational Development

Mr. Brian Falcone, Principal, Coginchaug Regional High School

Mr. Thomas Ford, Principal, John Lyman Elementary School


Mr. Craig Bradanini, Teacher’s Union President, CRHS Math Teacher

Ms. Kathy Zygmont, CRHS Math Teacher

Mrs. Beth Melillo, CRHS Guidance Counselor

Mr. Timothy Fisher, CRHS Music Teacher and Band Director

Mrs. Valerie Swiantek, Teacher of the Year, Lyman Elementary School Teacher

Mr. Alexander Edwards, Brewster Physical Education Teacher

Mrs. Rachel Mann, Memorial Middle School Teacher

Mrs. Lindsay Banas, Strong Middle School Teacher

Support Staff

Mrs. Linda Braga, Strong Middle School


Mrs. Maya Liss

Mrs. Rebecca Finnerty

Mr. Mike Finnerty

Community Members

Mrs. Elizabeth Shoudy