Veteran educator to fill a top job

The Board of Education voted unanimously at Tuesday's board meeting to hire Linda Gejda (pronounced Gayda), who will earn $136,200 a year.

"I am thoroughly convinced that Dr. Linda Gejda will be an outstanding asset to our school district as assistant superintendent of schools," Superintendent Evan Pitkoff said.

Board member Thomas Gissen said he thinks she will be "terrific."

"We all interviewed her Tuesday night and she was very impressive both in knowledge of material, her work ethic, and her understanding of the schools, students and their needs. I think she will add a lot.

"We were very fortunate to have Assistant Superintendent Alice Jackson. She (Gejda) will do a good job filling those very large shoes."

Jackson announced her retirement in late 2006 and in mid-January the search began to fill her position. The nationwide search produced about 35 candidates. That number was reduced to 5 by early March when interviewing began, Pitkoff said.

"I am extremely excited," Gejda said. "I began in Southbury, next door to Newtown, and am very aware of the district."

Gejda was a teacher at Rochambeau Middle School in Southbury from 1979 to 1998. "There is a quality education system there. I was very impressed and excited with the individuals I met in the district."

In addition to being the supervisor of math, science and technology of Manchester Public Schools, which includes 10 schools, Gejda is an adjunct professor of science education research at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

She received her state of Connecticut Superintendent of Schools certificate in 2003 from the University of Hartford, as part of her doctoral program.

For six months in 2005, she was interim assistant superintendent of Manchester public schools while the district looked for someone to fill the job.

Prior to working in Manchester, from 1998 to 2000, she was an assistant principal of Wamogo Regional High School, Region 6 in Litchfield.

"This is a wonderful opportunity," said Gejda. "I was very impressed with the resources the district provides. I very much want to become familiar with not only educators in the district, but I am anxious to meet the students and meet the parents."

Gejda looks forward to working with staff, students and parents with curriculum development, which she has been very involved with in Manchester.

She likes to apply a collaborative approach and feels it is "very important to met the needs of the students. Communication is a very important part of that."

Pitkoff said in a press release that a site visit to her school district "validated the many fine attributes that Linda possesses that will assist us in moving our district forward. Professional peers and community members described her as collaborative, intelligent, knowledgeable, organized and forthright at all times."

When talking to people in the Manchester school district, Pitkoff said Thursday, "they really are truly sorry to see her leaving."

Margaret Hackett, chairman of the Manchester Board of Education, called Gejda professional, approachable, likable and very conscientious of doing the right thing.

"She does her homework and checks things out. She is very respectful of the process and protocol (of education)," Hackett said. "She worked with us (district officials) to move us to the forefront of technology to ensure we had up-to-date technology plans (for the district)."

Married with two grown daughters, Gejda plans to continue to live in her childhood hometown of Beacon Falls.

Contact Heather Barr

at hbarr@newstimes.com

or at (203) 731-3331.