Hartford’s superintendent holds teacher convocation

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A new Superintendent takes the reins of the Hartford School system and Monday morning she kicked off the new school year by telling her story to all the city’s teachers.

It’s like a school pep rally, but just for the teachers. All of Hartford’s teachers crammed into one school’s gym to get revved up for the new school year, and the new school superintendent.

Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez has traveled the world, starting with her teaching job in South Korea.

“Where I knew nothing of the language and culture, and then joining the Peace Corps, which sent me to the Island Republic of Kiribas,” said Schiavino-Narvaez.

She replaces the first Puerto Rican woman to lead Hartford’s Schools, Christina Kishimoto. She clashed with the Mayor and school board over the pace of reform and bonus money, so her contract ended in June. The new Superintendent comes with a new perspective…mother of a special needs child.

“And everything I knew about education from a professional perspective was shaken when I became a parent and found out that my daughter Sophie had a disability that impaired her ability to learn,” said Schiavino-Narvaez.

The idea of convocation is to get teachers excited about the new school year, but there was some acknowledgement by officials about all the work that still needs to be done in Hartford schools.

“We have fallen way behind to the point where we have perhaps the largest income and opportunity gap in our state and potentially in our nation,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra, (D) Hartford.

The new superintendent says she hopes to narrow that gap and raise standardized test scores faster than her predecessor.

“Although we have seen double digit gains in math, only half of our students read proficiently, and only a third are proficient in math,” said Schiavino-Narvaez.

On the bright side, the graduation rate in Hartford has more than doubled from 32 percent to 71 percent. The new superintendent hopes to keep that progress going.

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