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New Norwalk Super has taken community’s temperature

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s new superintendent offered comforting words regarding Briggs High School this week, saying he has made much progress in getting to know the Norwalk community and hopes to develop strategic plans that everyone can work on.

Superintendent Manuel Rivera made the remarks at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the first time that he addressed the public from that position. Rivera, who had been on the job for 2½ weeks, said he had met with about 150 people, including union leaders, parents in groups at homes, people who wished to stop in at his office and school principals, and been to visit summer schools.

“It has affirmed for me the great potential of Norwalk public schools,” he said. “Nothing really surprised me.”

He went on to talk about Norwalk’s partner in the Briggs High School turnaround plan, Our Piece of the Pie, an organization that works with urban youth.

“I have all the confidence in the world with this organization,” he said, although the choice was made before he came to Norwalk.

Administrators are working to define the contract with Our Piece of the Pie, he said, and expect to present it at the next board meeting.

“As with all contracts with outside vendors, I believe it should include a performance component,” he said. “There should be performance standards known, milestones known, all of these should be part of the agreement that we have with companies or vendors that provide these types of services.”

He said he is focused on “a comprehensive and very inclusive” strategic planning process.

“My dream would be to see where there’s a major community plan around improving the learning environment, improving learning,” he said. “That means not only looking and working internally with what district goals can be and district responsibilities could be as far as that plan, but where do the various efforts that have been ongoing fit? How do we all work together and why not have a very robust integrated strategic plan that incorporates a number of goals that have been developed already as well as measures performance indicators.”

He said he is excited about the effort.

“I feel and I’ve sensed and I’ve heard the community really wants that,” he said. “I’m excited about that because we can’t do it alone, obviously. There are resources in this community that we need to embrace as our partners.”

Comments

23 responses to “New Norwalk Super has taken community’s temperature”

  1. marjoriem

    I hope the super is not going down the same road as Marks. Embrace Lisa Thomson and the Red Apples and it will be ‘Here we go again.’

  2. Norwalk Spectator

    Rivera, who had been on the job for 2½ weeks, said he had met with about 150 people, including union leaders, parents in groups at homes, people who wished to stop in at his office and school principals, and been to visit summer schools.

    Marjoriem,

    Talk about deja vu all over again! But at least this Superintendent actually got into his office before the long knives came out, unlike Dr. Marks.

    I believe the District hired him to supervise the schools. Even if he did meet with Lisa Thomson during the last 2 1/2 weeks, he apparently also met with 149 other people who were not Lisa Thomson during that time. Why not give Dr. Rivera the benefit of doubt and actually let the man do the job he was hired for?

  3. marjoriem

    Norwalk Spectator, I want to thank you for jumping all over my comment like a lion attacking an antelope. If you read my comment carefully, I said ‘I HOPE the super is not going down the same road’. I wasn’t accusing him of doing that. You certainly overreacted. Long knives? Pfffft!

  4. nwkprobate

    What is wrong with the Red Applies? Don’t they just want to improve the quality of education our students are receiving?

    Marjoriem, have you looked at Norwalk’s test scores? Do you really think we are helping all students? Is the status quo acceptable?

  5. marjoriem

    Nwkprobate, the Red Apples have all sorts of agendas, and most of them are nasty. If you think they want power to help ALL students, you are either one of the most naive people in Norwalk or you haven’t been updated on their actions. They want power, power and more power, and not for good reasons.

  6. Lisa Thomson

    Ok Mr/Ms or whoever you are marjoriem, just exactly, what “sorts” of agendas do Red Apples have? Sounds like a “red” herring to me. Why are you so threatened?

    Lets see, we would like to see 1) increased academic rigor, 2) a closing of the achievement gap and 3) increased accountability for “the system.” We’d also like to see more PD for teachers and many of us raise money for that purpose. We’ve advocated ECS funds for Norwalk in Hartford, but as the state is broke, it has been deemed a futile exercise. We believe in raising the bar in Norwalk and will support any superintendent, principal or teacher who does so and guess what… So will outside funders. Perhaps, if you focused your comments on how we can improve student outcomes, instead of nastily and anonymously attacking engaged parents such as myself – NPS would be a better place. I believe in our public school system, but that things need to change.

    It’s sad, this article was supposed to be about our new, nationally recognized superintendent, but you obviously got up early to be first to post and pull Norwalk education into the gutter once again with false accusations against a bunch of moms!

  7. Hobbes the Calvinist

    I agree that Dr. Rivera deserves respect. That means not jumping to conclusions. Let him meet with anyone he wants. How else will he figure out who are Nnorwalk’s cranks and malcontents.
    I don’t think the “Apples” deserve all the time and attention “they” get. A handful of disgruntled people with big ideas can be found in any barroom or OTB parlor. Sure, we respect them as fellow citizens, but we do we worry that they are organizing a political movement?

  8. EveT

    It would be kind of weird if Norwalk’s new superintendent did NOT meet with an organization dedicated to improving Norwalk’s schools, wouldn’t it? Just because he meets with the leaders of a given organization doesn’t mean he’s going to follow that organization’s agenda, nor does it mean he will oppose their agenda. He’s new in his position and part of his job is to gather information from all the stakeholders.

  9. marjoriem

    Lisa, you are good at spinning, I will give you that. Tell the truth. Would you have supported Daddona as the super? Does your pal, Sue Haynie support the teachers’ choice of K-6 curriculum choice? No, she supports her own agenda. Who made Daddona’s life miserable as interim? Who supported McCain’s illegal minority classrooms? (Even the State Dept. came in on that one!) who still mourns the loss of McCain because he catered to what could be called segregation in the classrooms? I know you want to appear that you are good people so that the new super will return power to you. Does he know that the NEF is almost bankrupt?

  10. Norwalk Spectator

    Marjoriem,

    “I want to thank you for jumping all over my comment like a lion attacking an antelope.”
    .
    You’re more than welcomed.
    .
    The first comment on the thread, which was yours, dredged up past history. I merely pointed out that Dr. Rivera had met with scores of others to acclimate himself to Norwalk.
    .
    May I remind you that your statement also read, “Embrace Lisa Thomson and the Red Apples and it will be ‘Here we go again.’”
    .
    Clearly by your own admission in your post to Ms. Thomson, you had issues with Dr. Marks, and Bob McCain and apparently still have issues with Mr. Daddona, Ms. Haynie and Ms. Thomson.
    .
    Personally, I’d much rather see what Dr. Rivera can do rather than running him down before he gets a chance to start.

  11. marjoriem

    Norwalk Spectator, I think you are having a problem comprehending what I mean. No, I do not support Lisa Thomson or Sue Haynie, but I have no bone to pick with Daddona. He did a very good job keeping the district calm and moving forward during his interim superintendency. I am also not accusing the new super of anything. I am warning him that it would be a mistake, however to give power to the RedApples. Whether he does or not is entirely up to him. Bob MCain had issues with the State Dept. I think I am in good company there.

  12. Norwalk Spectator

    Let’s just clarify this, Marjoriem. The various names you mentioned were all introduced into the conversation via your posts.

    I just think it is sad that rather than focusing on Dr. Rivera’s excitement about working in Norwalk and his vision —
    “My dream would be to see where there’s a major community plan around improving the learning environment, improving learning,” he said. “That means not only looking and working internally with what district goals can be and district responsibilities could be as far as that plan, but where do the various efforts that have been ongoing fit?…”

    is being shuffled aside in favor of potshots at former employees, a Board member and an independent education group. But, hey, I tend to be “a glass half filled” person. Not everyone is.

  13. marjoriem

    Your half filled glass is also half empty, Norwalk Spectator. If YOU need further clarification, I suggest you ask someone who understands my posts. There are no potshots, just facts. I look forward to a superintendent who intelligently assesses and clearly understands the RedApples and Lisa Thompson’s agendas. IMHO, he can not produce results from his vision unless he understands the history of those who believe they alone know it all.

  14. Avatar

    One word: WEARISOME…….

  15. Norwalk Spectator

    I understand your posts perfectly fine. Interesting that you characterized me as a lion jumping an antelope, but in truth and fact, I brought no negativity to this discussion.

    To Dr. Rivera, Welcome to Norwalk.

  16. Piberman

    Here’s a plea for everyone putting on their best behaviors. We have no shortage of real and self proclaimed “experts” anxious to tell Dr Riviera how to do his job, who are the good guys and the not so nice people. Lets give Dr Riviera plenty of breathing space and avoid unseemly comments about Norwalk’s educational villains real or imagined. There will be ample opportunities to do educational battle in the near future. Norwalk’s hostile teacher and administrator unions will keep the pot boiling. No need for any of us to fuel the fires of educational discontent. Lets be nice.

  17. marjoriem

    “Talk about deja vu all over again! But at least this Superintendent actually got into his office before the long knives came out, unlike Dr. Marks”
    No negativity, Norwalk Spectator?

  18. nwkprobate

    Majoriem,

    Are you just bent out of shape because your buddy Daddona didn’t get the job? Sure sounds like it.
    How’s Norwalk Spectator being negative by describing the situation? NS is just painting a picture. You on the other hand are making unsubstantiated attacks on people…the Apples want to grab power? Like a coup? And do what?

    Take a break and “chill your nips” as my teenager likes to say.

  19. marjoriem

    The Apples ran Susan Marks. Marks was weak, out of her league and looked to her cheerleaders (the Apples) for advice. THAT is what did her in. Sue Haynie was Marks’s shadow. Did you forget the Marks’ budget that was NOT student friendly? Did you forget the curriculum that Sue Haynie is pushing, which the literacy specialists in the district are saying does not support early readers? Have you even attended a Board meeting where Haynie changes the minutes of the meeting, is rude to people and obviously has a hate agenda going for Daddona? Unsubstantiated attacks? Wake up!
    Oh, as for Daddona, I don’t care one way or the other. I don’t have a hate agenda for him though.

  20. Norwalk Spectator

    YAWN…..

  21. marjoriem

    Too bad the climate that jeopardizes the education of our children is a ‘yawn’ for you. I hope Rivera doesn’t get caught up in your yawn. I hope he is the intelligent superintendent we have all been waiting for. I hope he sees through the anger and the lack of good common sense fromf the RedApples. With that, I know you will want the last word, so go ahead. I am in it for better role models for our children. I want peace and harmony. I want respect for educators. How else will test scores rise? Good luck to those who support the angry.

  22. Norwalk Spectator

    “With that, I know you will want the last word, so go ahead.”
    .
    Why, thank you, Marjoiem. Have a nice day!

  23. Broderick I. Sawyer

    The superintendent just arrived, give him a chance. I am certain he will form his own opinions and go from there.

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