NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s a new leader of New Haven Public Schools and she’s breaking barriers as the city’s first Hispanic superintendent. 

The board officially voted to appoint Dr. Madeline Negrón as the next superintendent of New Haven Public Schools at its first in-person meeting Wednesday. The meeting was at Barack H. Obama Magnet University School. 

Negrón was picked from 31 candidates across 17 states. She was one of the three finalists interviewed by panels of students, parents, teachers, paraprofessionals and community members.  

“She did very well in the interview,” said Yesenia Rivera, New Haven Board of Education President. “She had all of those qualities that we thought the next superintendent should have.” 

Negrón has been an educator for 25 years. She was a former director of instruction in New Haven and currently works as Hartford’s deputy superintendent. 

But her career in education wasn’t always clear. When she was a student, she says her teachers saw a language barrier as a setback. 

“All they saw was that we have this young girl who can’t speak English,” Negrón said. “And for some, that unfortunately meant, she can’t speak English, she cannot possibly be smart.”

With the help of a mentor, Negrón excelled in school. She went on to become a first-generation college graduate with multiple degrees, including a PHD from UConn.

As the new head of New Haven schools, she doesn’t want students to struggle the way she did. 

“This is about the children that are waiting for us to make sure that are we are creating that access that they need to the equitable opportunities so that can fly because we know when children thrive, mayor that’s when cities flourish,” she said.  

Negrón also wants to collaborate with teachers and staff to help students succeed. 

“Teachers are building every other single career but no one respects them for doing that building,” she said. “I am fully committed to make sure they’re receiving the supports that they need that will help them grow because as educators, we’re never done growing.”

Negrón will officially start on July 1. She is touring schools in New Haven Thursday morning.