Madison taps longtime CT educator as interim schools chief
MADISON — With the current schools superintendent’s departure just two months away, the town has tapped a temporary replacement, Board of Education Chairwoman Katie Stein announced Wednesday.
Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote, who served as New Milford’s superintendent of schools for 10 years until her retirement in 2016, will take over as Madison schools chief in July.
“Obviously, I’m very excited to be serving as interim in Madison,” Paddyfote said. “I’m humbled and honored to be able to have that assignment.”
Paddyfote will replace Thomas Scarice, who after eight years on the job is leaving to head up Westport schools.
“The Board of Education is very pleased to welcome Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote to Madison Public Schools,” Stein said in a statement posted to the district’s Facebook page. “She brings with her a wealth of administrative experience in public education and special education. We are thrilled to have such a respected and experienced administrator in place to lead our district in these challenging times.”
Paddyfote spent 36 years working for New Milford schools, where she held roles ranging from special education teacher to special services director to assistant superintendent, and where she ultimately became the head of the district, according to the statement.
And she is no stranger to helping districts transition, either. After leaving New Milford, Paddyfote served as an interim superintendent three times — twice for Ridgefield and once for Avon, she said.
The “unprecendented times” of the coronavirus pandemic raise questions about when and how school will resume, Paddyfote pointed out.
“I think the challenge will be: where do we go from here?” she said.
During her time in Ridgefield, Paddyfote gained some experience with the educational challenges the pandemic poses, staying on long enough to lead the district as it entered the early phases of distance learning, she said.
Paddyfote’s goal in Madison will be to make sure “everything is ready and in good order for the next superintendent,” she said. She will seek to address any district challenges by working with all stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers and the Board of Education, she continued.
“I want to make sure that we’re all working together collaboratively, consistently and effectively,” Paddyfote said.
Scarice announced his departure in early April, barely a week after a tense Board of Education meeting at which one member criticized his leadership.
The superintendent cited the Westport school district’s renowned reputation, the quality of its Board of Education members and its larger size compared to Madison as reasons for leaving.
“Without question, this been the most difficult professional decision of my career,” Scarice told parents in an email. “Serving as Superintendent in Madison has been a great honor and the most rewarding 8 years of my career.”
Meanwhile, the town continues to look for a long-term replacement. It put out a request for proposals from potential search consultants, according to Madison’s website, which indicates bidding will close Friday.