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New principal at Kendall Elementary School lauded as team player, difference maker

Jennifer Sweeters addresses the Norwalk Board of Education on May 21.

The Norwalk Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Jennifer Sweeters as the new principal of Kendall College and Career Academy, also referred to as Kendall Elementary School.  

“Jennifer Sweeters has dedicated many, many years of her life to the children of Norwalk Public Schools and has been extremely flexible when needed to be in different situations throughout the district,” Superintendent Alexandra Estrella told the Board of Education at its May 21 meeting. “We have been really, really proud of the work she has done and she’s been a team player. Whenever we’ve needed support she’s always been the first to say, ‘I’ll do it,’ even if it’s a difficult, complex situation.”

Sweeters has been serving as the interim principal of Kendall since February, after Zakiyyah Baker resigned to become the principal of ACES Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School (WIMS), a K-8 magnet school in Hamden.

“Norwalk Public Schools is just a huge part of who I am,” Sweeters said, adding that some of her family members also worked for the district. 

Sweeters, herself a Norwalk Public Schools graduate, went on to earn her bachelor’s in English and Spanish from Western Connecticut State University, as well as an associate’s degree in early childhood from Norwalk Community College. She also earned a master’s in elementary education from the University of Bridgeport, and her administrative certification from Sacred Heart University. 

“My own career has been built right here—I actually started as a para[professional] in this district and I am here before you hopefully as the next principal of Kendall College and Career Academy,” she told the Board of Education. 

She also worked as a teacher at Brookside for about 10 years, which is where she said her “interest in educational leadership was ignited.” 

“I was really blessed to have amazing administrators who saw a spark in me and provided some guidance and opportunities for myself to grow as a leader,” Sweeters said. 

After that, she worked as an administrator with the Norwalk Pathways Academy, before becoming the curriculum instruction site director at Columbus Magnet School. Over the past five years, she served as an assistant principal at Norwalk High School, Wolfpit Elementary School, and Nathan Hale Middle School, before coming to Kendall. 

Sweeters said that as interim, she’s been able to get to know the school’s staff, students, and parents.

“I’m excited to make my position official and continue building upon the great foundation that they already have in place as we continue to prepare our future scholars,” she said. 

Sweeters outlined her vision for the school, which includes strengthening the Tier 1—or general—instruction students receive by “providing more opportunities for interdisciplinary project-based learning,” and by providing more opportunities for students to “inquire, explore, and investigate various workforce development skills, computer science skills, and college and career connections.”

She said she was looking forward to “planting my roots firmly” at Kendall. 

Estrella said the work Sweeters has been doing at Kendall, particularly “her expertise in instruction is already making a difference and will continue to do so.”

Sweeters received a standing ovation from the audience members in attendance, which included staff from many of the schools she’s worked at.

“I have to say that in my 4.5 years on the Board of Ed, this is the most energy for an appointment I have seen,” Board President Diana Carpio said. “That says so much about you, of the fan club that’s across the district.”

Estrella added, “the standing ovation speaks to who we are bringing forward to you,” and “speaks to the work and the impact she has on people.”

Mary Yorden, president of the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, congratulated her on the appointment, noting Sweeters “has inspired confidence in her leadership in her other assignments throughout the district. We are looking forward to working with her.”

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