MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona and first lady Jill Biden will be at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Meriden on Wednesday.
It is unclear what time they will be at the school.
Biden and Cardona be traveling together to Meriden and then will travel to Fort LeBoeuf Middle School in Waterford, Pennsylvania, for a tour of both schools.
WEB EXTRA: Interview with Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati and Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni
On Monday, the United States Senate voted 64 to 33, confirming Cardona as the nation’s next Secretary of Education.
WEB EXTRA: VP Harris ceremonially swears in Dr. Cardona as the nation’s 12th Secretary of Education
In August of 2019, Dr. Cardona was appointed Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education by Governor Ned Lamont. He also just so happened to be the state’s first Latino education commissioner.
Dr. Cardona was a teacher and administrator in Meriden public schools for 21 years. In fact, he grew up in a public housing project in Meriden, raised by parents who came to Connecticut from Puerto Rico as children.
Throughout his career, he has focused on closing education gaps and supporting bilingual education.
News 8 sat down to talk with the principal of Hanover Elementary in Meriden where Dr. Cardona was the principal for about a decade.
“I was actually hired by Dr. Cardona to be his assistant here about eight years ago,” Principal Jen Kelly explained.
The decisions he set in motion at Hanover made an impact on the district over the years.
“Here at Hanover, we house the bilingual program so we have kids who come and have no English experience whatsoever so we get them to learn English, to have the academics, and then after 30 months of bilingual services and then they go to general ed classes.”
Wednesday, the first lady – and educator herself – will be visiting an elementary school down the street: Benjamin Franklin Elementary.
“Really her philosophy is meeting the kids and where they are meeting their needs and that’s what we do successfully the best that we possibly can.”
An exciting moment for educators throughout the district, especially Superintendent Mark Benigni. It’ll be a moment to showcase the district and the success of their students.
“To welcome the first lady on her first official visit to Meriden, it doesn’t get much better than this…I am proud that our standardized test scores are improving, that our PSAT scores go up. Of course, I am but I’m most proud that our families trust us and believe in our education.”
Despite any setbacks, their students persevere with the help of staff members at each of their 14 schools.
“We do have a very high free and reduced lunch rate. Again, there are families struggling but we like to have education be the great equalizer so anything we can do to support kids.”
The superintendent hopes to send one message: “We want what’s best for our students, and public education can be the great equalizer. Tomorrow we send a message that it worked here in Meriden and it can work anywhere across the country.”