New Principal Named at Aiken Elementary School

James Quinn, a West Hartford resident and graduate of Conard High School, will take over the leadership of Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford when current Principal Kathy McKay retires this summer.


Aiken Elementary School. WHPS website

By Ronni Newton

When West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore told the Board of Education in April that Aiken Principal Kathy McKay would be retiring at the end of the school year, he said she would be very difficult to replace. On Tuesday, Moore announced in a letter sent to parents, faculty, and staff that he has found someone he thinks will be “exactly the kind of leader that Aiken needs.”

“Jim brings vision and integrity to this leadership role. His reputation as a clear, articulate communicator, with a collaborative, approachable style and a record for forging solid connections between colleagues, families, and the community will serve Aiken Elementary School well,” Moore said in his letter.

A committee that included staff and administrators as well as parents worked to develop a profile for the new principal – including “characteristics, experiences, human qualities, and leadership style,” and vetted candidates based on that profile.

After the committee identified several finalists, those individuals were interviewed by the executive team and Quinn was selected.

“What makes it extra special is that Jim is a product of west Hartford public schools,” Moore said Tuesday evening when he announced the appointment at the Board of Education meeting. “With each conversation we felt that we had a person who knew what West Hartford was all about. Hook, line and sinker he bought into the West Hartford way,” Moore said.

Quinn is a current resident of West Hartford and a graduate of Conard High School. He has a bachelors degree from UConn, a graduate degree in education from the University of Hartford, and a degree in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University.

Most recently, Quinn was principal of South End Elementary School in Southington. He was previously principal at Thomas Hooker Elementary School in Meriden which during his tenure was named a Blue Ribbon School (2009) and  Connecticut Elementary School of the Year (2011). Quinn has also been an assistant principal in Southington and early in his career taught third, fourth, and fifth grades in East Hartford.

According to Moore, when asked about Jim, prior colleagues lauded his “common sense approach,” and “can do attitude.”

Moore said that it was great to see how enthusiastic and excited Quinn was about being offered the job. “When I told Jim that he would be Aiken’s next principal, his excitement was palpable,” Moore said.

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