WASHINGTON — A Southington principal will become the new superintendent of schools in Region 12.

The school board unanimously approved the appointment of Megan Bennett at a special meeting Wednesday. She starts July 1.

“Megan was truly a standout candidate in a pool of strong applicants,” Board Chairman Anthony Amato said. “She will do great things for our children, their parents and our three towns.”

Bennett said she recognizes she is joining a school board and educators committed to education.

“I want to make sure I’m part of this team,” she said. “I’m both a teacher and a learner.”

Bennett replaces Patricia Cosentino, who announced in December that she was resigning at the end of the school year after serving as superintendent for six years. Cosentino has since been hired as the superintendent of schools in New Fairfield.

In her letter to the Region 12 school board this winter, Cosentino did not say why she was stepping down but said she was proud of helping to create the agriscience/STEM academy, obtaining national recognition for the counseling department and successfully implementing “multi-age classrooms” in Bridgewater’s Burnham School.

Bennett said she is excited to continue these initiatives, especially the agSTEM program, which is set to open for the 2019-2020 school year.

“I’m thrilled to be part of projects that already have so much momentum,” she said.

Bennett said she hopes to give individual attention to Bridgewater, Washington and Roxbury, the three towns that make up Region 12, while still promoting a regional system. She also promised communication and transparency.

Bennett was selected from a pool of 20 candidates in a process that included 18 community focus groups and an online survey to ensure the public’s voice was heard, Amato said. The search process was led by Joseph Erardi, Newtown’s former superintendent.

“It was truly a group process,” Amato said, adding that hiring a superintendent is “one of, if not the most important responsibility, as board members.”

Bennett has almost a decade of experience as an elementary school principal, working in Southington, Rocky Hill and Taunton, Mass. Earlier she was the mathematics coordinator for Taunton and Hartford. She also worked as a mathematics district coach and classroom teacher in Hartford, where she began her career in 2000.

She graduated from Siena College with a degree in psychology in 1999, earning her master’s degree in elementary education from Central Connecticut State University in 2004 and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Sacred Heart University in 2005.

Board members praised Bennett for her intelligence, passion, leadership, infectious energy and her experience at all grade levels.

“We’re going to feel confident about your leadership from K-12 and beyond,” said board member Michael Sinatra.

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