NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A month into her new role, New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Madeline Negron comes to work each day for what she calls her dream job.
She sat down with News 8 to talk about her story and how she plans to set students up for success.
Only a few months ago, Negron was met with applause when New Haven’s Board of Education unanimously selected her – as the new superintendent of schools, out of 31 candidates.
“She did very well in the interview. She had all of those qualities that we thought the next superintendent should have,” New Haven Board of Education President Yesenia Rivera.
Now she’s more than a month into her new role settling into a new office with a vision of “excellence” for the district.
“I am so honored, so humbled that this board of education, this city, this community has entrusted me to be in this [role] that is so important because I get to impact the life of 20 thousand students,” Negron said.
Negron, the first Latina superintendent to lead the district, doesn’t take that landmark lightly.
“I realize what this represents. I know the weight that is on my shoulders – but again this is where I’ve wanted to be. This is what I’ve been preparing myself for,” Negron said.
Negron has quite a story, she moved to Connecticut with family from Puerto Rico at just 10 years old and unable to speak a word of English.
“Even at the age of 10, I had dreams I had hopes, despite my parents not having any formal education – neither of them made it into high school. I always had this hope that I would go to college,” Negron said.
And she did eventually, by becoming a teacher in New Haven, moving up to the assistant principal, principal, then to the central office. She’s worked in the district for nearly two decades. She also spent 5 years working in Hartford Public Schools.
But she’s proud to be back in New Haven.
“My goal is how can I work to instill that passion that touches this organization – so that everyone can pour their heart and souls into working together so that we can truly do right by our kids,” she said.
Dr. Negron says she is focused on a list of priorities first addressing chronic absenteeism in the district and reengaging students.
“For me, it is very important that we partner with our families because we need to have every child in school starting on day one,” Negron said.
Another priority is significantly improving the district’s literacy rates in 2022. Reading assessment data showed 84 percent of third graders in New Haven were reading below their grade level.
“The reality is that literacy becomes the key to everything else,” she said.
Dr. Negron is focused on intently listening to administrators, faculty, staff, students and parents.
Starting Sept. 1 – through October she will visit each of the district’s 41 schools.
She said visibility is key – providing students hope and inspiration.
“It’s not about the title for me it’s about the fact that the majority of the students we serve in this district are students of color are students that come from low socio-economic backgrounds. I want kids to see me, I want kids to know my story and I want kids to feel like I can do that,” she said.