With her infectious smile, positive energy and open demeanor it’s as easy to picture Jennifer McCurdy teaching five-year-olds as it is counseling teenagers. It’s no wonder she excelled in both roles before becoming the new principal at .
In her new role at Mystic Middle School she has come full circle, in a roundabout way. While considering her new position she said, “a part of me always missed that age, in middle school there is so much growth, physical, intellectual and social.”
She believes her experience, as a guidance counselor will be invaluable in helping students in the transition process that is a part of middle school.
“Helping them make the right choices, leading them, guiding them and understanding where they are comfortable.”
McCurdy began teaching at in 2000 as a first grade teacher for three years and then two more years teaching second grade.
“I loved teaching and loved watching the growth by second grade. It is such a fun age to teach, they are so curious and such sponges for information,” McCurdy said.
From Deans Mill she made a leap, in 2005, as a guidance counselor at the and within a year was director of guidance.
“It was a great transition,” she said.
Working with ninth to 12th graders McCurdy’s role required her nurturing instincts, this time helping students to set goals, stay on track and navigate the college process.
“I loved watching them grow and meet their goals,” she said speaking of the screaming and yelling from her office when someone got accepted.
The last two years as Assistant Principal of Stonington High School broadened her experience as she oversaw student life as a whole.
“It was very busy, you have to have a pulse on everything that’s happening,” McCurdy said.
Her role included setting expectations for students, working closely with student government, planning assemblies, fundraising and workshops. But, she said she still worked at least 85 percent of the time directly with students which is where she feels most connected.
“Building relationships are the key for success, with students, teachers and parents,” McCurdy said. “When students trust you they trust your judgment, and they trust themselves” she said.
As a graduate of Providence College majoring in elementary and special education she then earned her master’s degree in guidance and counseling. Most recently she earned her sixth-year degree in administration at Sacred Heart University.
McCurdy’s students from her first year of teaching will now be starting high school in just a couple of weeks.
“It’s tremendous to watch a first grader all the way to high school,” McCurdy said adding there are always surprises, and most rewarding, “watching kids coming out of their shells at different times.”
As McCurdy awaits the arrival of her staff she is excited to get to know everyone and learn the “inner workings” of the school. There is “power in numbers,” she said of the shared leadership.
“I’m kind of looking forward to putting all the pieces of my experiences together.”
Jennifer McCurdy and Stonington Middle Schools Dean of Students Tom Bousquet, are holding a Welcome Back Open House on Thursday August 25, 2011 for Mystic Middle School families. Join them at Mystic Middle School in the cafeteria from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.