NHS bids goodbye to a legend and an amazing leader

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NHS bids goodbye to a legend and an amazing leader

Mrs. Saam and reporter Justes Cureton

Mrs. Saam and reporter Justes Cureton

Mrs. Saam and reporter Justes Cureton

Mrs. Saam and reporter Justes Cureton

Justes Cureton, Staff Writer

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Mrs. Janice Saam has been principal at Naugatuck High School since the 2011- 2012 school year and the 2017-18 will be her last and final year as principal. She retires in July after a 38 year career with the district.

Saam was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, but, after marrying her husband, she moved to Naugatuck so that her two boys could profit from the Naugatuck education system.

After taking advice from her high school counselor who advised that she would be a great teacher, she pursued her secondary education by attending St. Joseph’s College with a dual major in Special Education and General Education.

She was hired by the Naugatuck Board of Education and began her career as a special education teacher at Central Avenue School in 1980.

Ben Wierzbicki crowns and hugs Mrs. Saam

Ten years later Saam became a fourth grade teacher at Maple Hill School where she stayed for 10 years. While teaching at Maple Hill School, the principal, at that time, encouraged her to take on leadership positions and promoted her to lead teacher.

Due to his encouragement, Saam continued with her education and earned her Sixth Year.

She, then,  became coordinator of Pupil Services at the district office.

While Saam was associate principal during her seventh year, Principal Francis Seeratore was retiring.

Saam was the only internal candidate who applied for the new upcoming principal position and was also the only candidate the Board of Education interviewed or even considered, according to David Heller.

“[Mrs. Saam] provides an incredibly steady hand and that could be overlooked or taken for granted. She has gotten the school through the incredible renovation, through NEASC in addition to the day to day things that happen in away that is poised in a way that projects calm and confidence. That is something you won’t see in every building or in every leader,” said Mr. John Harris, associate principal at Naugatuck High School.

Mrs. Saam has made an impact at Naugatuck High School on many other administrators, teachers, and, even, students throughout the school.

“Individually, Mrs. Saam has given me a voice in this school. She has given me the opportunity to get involved in schoolwide decisions and allowed me to be a voice for my peers,” said Abigail Pruchnicki, Class President of 2018.

After becoming principal of Naugatuck High School,  Saam decided to step back into the classroom and co-taught ethics with Mrs. Jill Walsh. She welcomed the reminder of what a teacher must do daily.

“I have such great respect for the fact that Mrs.Saam, a principal, who has so many responsibilities took the time to get back into the classroom and actually teach. She planned lessons; she created assessments, was with the kids, and taught up in front of the classroom. I’m not even sure if there has ever been another administrator who has done that,”said Mrs. Walsh.

Mrs.Saam has worked with Mr. Thomas Pompei for the past 12 years – building a one of a kind friendship in and outside of Naugatuck High School.

Mr. Pompei escorts Mrs. Saam as seniors applaud her contributions to NHS

“For someone who does her job with her heart, her head is still in control. She is extraordinary at balance while being passionate, diligent, and detailed and not once did I ever see her rattled. She is special, after working a 14 hour shift at the high school then going home to take care of her family she’ll still call me at 10:30 pm and she just goes. She has the ability to be good at everything she does. Mrs. Saam was running a renovation, and almost 3/4th of a school year with no associate principal, and again she was never flustered. She has been a great and supportive friend for me at all times. When you describe what you’d like your boss to be like Jan Saam had it all. I’ll miss her the first day I come back to the high school,” said Mr. Pompei, dean at Naugatuck High School.

The class of 2018 showed their appreciation to and love of Mrs. Saam by having the jazz band play music while she walked down a red carpet. She received flowers from Mr.Pompei,  a sash from Ray Luccarelli, and was crowned by Ben Wierzbicki.

“My hope is that I left the school better than I found it. That I was able to bring Naugatuck High School along to a place where people can be proud of it as well as the community.  So students can feel excited and safe. I really hope my work can be in service to students,” said Mrs. Saam.

My hope for her is that she takes the time to focus on herself and realize how much she has made a difference to those of us who she didn’t even see everyday, such as myself.


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