New Redding Elementary School principal comes full circle

Natalie Hammond, new Redding Elementary School principal

Natalie Hammond, new Redding Elementary School principal

Natalie Hammond has come full circle in her new role as principal at Redding Elementary School. It was at this school where she first began her teaching career, as a long-term substitute, during the 1994-1995 school year.

Prior to returning to RES, Hammond was assistant principal of Emma Hart Willard Elementary School in Berlin for three years. Before that, she was a lead teacher and third grade teacher in Newtown, at Sandy Hook Elementary and Head O’Meadow School.

Hammond said she came back to RES because she wanted to move on to greater opportunities. “I was ready to spread my wings and move onto a principalship,” she said. “I was in school administration for five years and I felt like this was the right time and place for me to become a principal.”

She said she thinks very highly of her new school. “I chose RES because of its positive climate and atmosphere for learning. I’m impressed with the high expectations, and the dedicated staff who are passionate about students’ success,” she said. “It is an exemplary school district.”

She said she greatly enjoys working with young children. “The young learner’s excitement is enough to make you want to come in each day. They are so eager to learn and as an educator, we’re continuing our learning as well,” she said. “There is always new learning emerging.”

One of Hammond’s goals at RES is to maintain the positive school climate that currently exists within the building. “I think it’s such an important foundation for any school to continue the collaborative processes that have already been in place,” she said.

In this regard, Hammond said she’ll be spending a lot of time learning and listening to existing practices. “I’m going to be in the discovery mode for a while — getting to know the students, staff and families who are in this community, having communication with them and being present in the classrooms. This will help guide us to where we want to go in the future,” she said.

She plans to hold monthly meetings with the Parent Teacher Association and hopes to develop relationships with families.

“We are all really on the same journey together,” she said. “We all want what’s best for children.”

She said she is proud of her many accomplishments at her former positions, one of which was developing and implementing an effective character education program at Emma Hart Willard School.

“We would have monthly school-wide assemblies on various topics. Each month, there was a different focus and we would generally base those focuses on where the needs were in the building. For example, if we were coming upon a big assessment time for which we knew children would have to work extra hard and persevere, we might have our monthly assembly on perseverance,” she said. “At the end of the month, we would celebrate the successes of the students by honoring them at the next assembly — talking about the specific actions the students took. It would be student-centered and focused.” Hammond said she hopes to bring some components of this program to Redding Elementary School.

School Superintendent Thomas McMorran said the administration has been impressed with Hammond’s vision of an elementary school in which children are well loved and learning.

“She brings a passion for teaching and enthusiasm for collaboration to every conversation,” he said. “I am highly confident that we found the right match for our school.”

Hammond received a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and elementary education from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and a master of science degree  in elementary reading from Western Connecticut State University. She completed her educational leadership certification program at Sacred Heart University.

Hammond comes from a household of educators. “My parents, George and Rita Green, are both retired teachers — they each taught 36 years. Growing up, I saw how much they loved teaching and that passion became very natural for me,” she said. “I didn’t have to decide what my career was going to be. I knew being an educator would be my lifelong passion.”

Hammond and her husband Jerry have a 16-year-old daughter, Kayla. In her downtime, Hammond said she enjoys sitting with a good book at the beach. “That’s my go-to place,” she said.

In the coming weeks, Hammond plans to work with the PTA to set up meet-and-greet opportunities as she gets to know the students and families in the community.

She said she is eagerly awaiting for the first day of school to begin. “The teachers and staff at Redding Elementary are excited to hear about all the children’s summer adventures,” she said. “I am looking forward to seeing everyone in August.”

Hammond has replaced former principal Carrie Wessman Huber, who has taken a job as a principal in Farmington.

RES was founded in 1948 and enrolls about 500 students from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade. Christopher Basta serves as assistant principal.

 

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