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New Principal Named for Sedgwick Middle School

Charter Oak International Academy Principal Juan Melián greets a student before the start of the first day of school. Aug. 31, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Juan Melián will be leaving Charter Oak International Academy at the end of the current school year to become principal of West Hartford’s Sedgwick Middle School.

Juan Melián expresses his appreciation for being honored with the Build No Fences Award. Breakfast on the Bridge. Sept. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore announced Friday that Juan Melián has been named principal of Sedgwick Middle School, effective July 1, 2022.

Sedgwick’s current principal, Andrew Clapsaddle, recently announced plans to leave the district, and Moore said it was important to appoint a principal “who believes in the importance of community, and appreciates the unique nature of the middle school years, while having a love for this special place.”

Melián said he is so excited about the opportunity. “It’s a dream for me,” he said in a phone interview Friday.

This will be Melián’s third stint at Sedgwick – a place he calla his “first home.” He began his career in West Hartford teaching sixth grade Spanish at Sedgwick in 1997, and then taught at Conard from 2001 until 2008. In 2008 he returned to Sedgwick as an assistant principal, before moving on to become principal at Smith STEM School.

Melián became the principal of Charter Oak International Academy in 2012, the year before the school expanded and moved to its brand new building.

“I’m at the end of my seventh year,” he said. Starting off in the old building was a great opportunity to fully experience the culture of Charter Oak, and for the past six years he has greatly enjoying making the state-of-the-art new building the school’s home.

“My first thought was that this is so exciting for me. This is a great time for me to go back to Sedgwick and continue working with our kids,” Melián said. There are 250 to 300 students who will be at Sedgwick next year who he knows because they attended Charter Oak.

“There are very important things to do in the community,” Melián said. One of the most important, he said, particularly for middle school students, is provide guidance, positivity, and assurance to students during a time when there is much anxiety. “Really bringing this message of hope, and that we have a lot of strength. And knowing that it’s going to be okay for everyone,” he said.

Listening to the community will be his first task, said Melián, who is known for building relationships and a sense of community.

“My appreciation to all our leadership, and Tom Moore,” Melián said, adding that he is very excited about the challenge and another opportunity to prove, and improve, himself.

Moore expressed his congratulations, and said Melián “has been a great principal in West Hartford, and was excited by the opportunity not just to return to his roots here, but to take on the challenge of leading Sedgwick Middle School as we move out of the pandemic,”

“We are all so very thrilled that Juan will be staying in West Hartford, and will continue to build the family and school relationships that have been his hallmark as a leader. Please join us in congratulating Juan Melián, and welcoming him back to Sedgwick,” Moore said in a letter to the community.

“It is with sadness and much love that I let you know that this will be my last year as principal of Charter Oak International Academy,” Melián said in an announcement to the school community Friday afternoon. “Next year, I will be returning to Sedgwick Middle School where I started my career as a teacher and took my first steps as a school administrator after spending some time at Conard High School. Becoming principal at Sedgwick is a true honor for me and an incredible opportunity to continue my work with the families I have served for more than two decades.”

Melián said leaving is not easy, and he has had the best years of his personal and professional life at Charter Oak. “My feeling is that we have completed an incredibly productive cycle together and that there is a great opportunity to redefine, re-energize, and make, even better, the next phase for our school under new leadership,” he added.

The district will conduct a search for Melián’s replacement at Charter Oak, Moore said.

Juan Melian as a celebrity chef at the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools event West Hartford’s Cookin’, April 2, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

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