When Gina Prisco accepted the post as principal of Woodbridge's Beecher Road School this year, it was a big change from the West Haven school where she'd spent the last five years. She hasn't been on the job that long, but she already feels right at home.
"It's very different for me to be in a place where the school is the entire community," she says. "The support from parents and the community is fantastic. Working with the staff, it feels like I've been here for a very long time already. That speaks to how welcoming everyone has been."
Prisco was principal at Alma E. Pagels School in West Haven from 2007 to 2012, but the educator -- who taught for 20 years in West Haven, including at the fifth-grade level and as a physics and chemistry teacher at the eighth-grade level -- says she was ready to take the next step.
"I had a job I did like," she says. "But when I ended these interviews I thought it would be a great match … I have said I kind of interviewed Beecher Road School as much as they interviewed me."
She credits her administrative team as they work to adjust to the state's new accountability plan, which includes a new evaluation plan for teachers. Prisco says the new teacher evaluation system isn't that different from what was already in place at Beecher Road.
"Beecher Road School [already] has a comprehensive evaluation plan," she says. "For us, it will still be comprehensive."
Prisco is also facing more students than she's previously dealt with. Beecher Road School is nearly twice the size of her previous school, she says.
"But even though it's large, it still has a community feel to it," she says. "And i think that's in part due to the consistency of the families that remain here from K-6. There's a large number of families and children that spend their entire elementary school career at Beecher Road. What's welcoming is that there's a small number of children that come in at different grade levels, [and] they are very welcomed -- welcomed by the children, welcomed by the staff, welcomed by the other families. If you were to go into a classroom you wouldn't know whether a child's been here for a year or six years.
"And i think that's a great credit to the community."