An announcement was made Friday morning at the 2021 CABE/CAPSS Convention held at the Mystic Marriott Hotel in Groton.
By Ronni Newton
Tom Moore, who has been superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools since 2014, was honored Friday as the 2022 Superintendent of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS).
Moore, 51, a Massachusetts native who graduated from UMass, is an educator at heart, and has worked in West Hartford Public Schools for 25 years, rising quickly from the ground up through the ranks from where he began as a history and social studies teacher at Conard High School in 1996. He became a department supervisor, Conard principal from 2007 through 2010, and assistant superintendent for administration until being named superintendent in July 2014.
The honor is really a reflection of the entire district, he said. “It’s really the executive team, all the teachers, and the principals,” said Moore. “It’s the work that they do. I’m just the one standing in for them.”
Moore said he was thrilled to accept the honor Friday.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed, which I’m usually not,” he said. “I’m never speechless.”
The district’s tagline is “Clear Paths, Bright Futures. No Limits,” and Moore is often quoted turning those words into an action statement, not just a description of the West Hartford Public School’s mission.
There won’t always be clear paths, Moore said as he gave a “State of the Schools” report to the Board of Education in February 2021, nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic upended education for students not just in West Hartford and the state, but throughout the country and the rest of the world.
But turning the word “clear” into an action, Moore said during that presentation, “We will clear paths so that there are bright futures for every child that we have, and we will not allow limits to be put on our children for what is possible in their lives. … It’s what we need to do. It’s what we have to do.”
Moore said the district strives to do the right thing for its students – for equity, for their safety, for their educational experience which includes academics as well as the arts and athletics.
“To have other superintendents recognize that West Hartford is leading is great,” he said. “To represent all of them is certainly humbling.”
The criteria for Superintendent of the Year include:
- Leadership for Learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in
his or her school system
- Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication
- Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills,
while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on
the education team
- Community Involvement – active participation in local community activities and an
understanding of regional, national, and international issues.
“Throughout Tom’s tenure as superintendent – and particularly illuminated over the past two years – he has demonstrated a consistent commitment to excellence in education,” Board of Education Chair Deb Polun said. “He has high standards for our teachers and our students, and our schools and our town have flourished under his leadership.”
The district has long been known for its success in encouraging students to succeed, to be empowered take advanced placement courses in areas that interest them. But the past two years have presented even greater challenges than ever impacting the entire community, tragedies that include not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also racial tensions that have spotlighted the district’s already robust focus and commitment to enhancing equity.
West Hartford Public Schools have continued to lead, with its high schools consistently ranked among the top in the state, and nationally. When the sudden transition to online learning was made in March 2020, the curriculum developed by the district was followed by other schools throughout the world.
Through it all, transparent and open communication has been the key element to the district’s continued success, Moore said. We tell the community “what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.”
He’s proud to have been recognized for leadership during challenging times, when difficult decisions needed to be made, decisions that involved a balance of safety and education, mental and physical health. “I think it’s important that if you hold the position of leadership, that in challenging times you stand for something,” he said.
“All of us on the Board and throughout West Hartford already knew Tom was the best superintendent in the state,” said Polun. “We are so thrilled for him to be honored so deservingly in this way.”
She said that Moore has not only led the town, but has led the state in navigating COVID safely, “while prioritizing in person
schooling and learning recovery.” The recognition the district has consistently received is a testament to Moore’s leadership and “firm belief that our children are West Hartford’s most important asset and deserve only the best.”
Moore said he’s always wanted his life to have meaning, and leading the district, and being recognized by fellow superintendents throughout the state for his leadership during the recent challenges, “has provided the opportunity to now that what I do is important.”
Moore said he’s not planning on retiring anytime soon, but when he does, “I will be able to look back and know that my life mattered.”
In February Moore will travel to Nashville, representing Connecticut at the naming of the National Superintendent of the Year.
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