EHHS Assistant Principal Mrs. Susan Harkins' retirement was officially announced during a Board of Education meeting on 2/9/21. Mrs. Harkins plans to use her free time to travel and spend time with her children and grandchildren.
Mrs. Harkins, 60, is a mother to 3 children. She has a son (33) and two daughters (31 and 23). All are graduates of East Haven High School. Mrs. Harkins had graduated from the old high school in 1978, attended Roger Williams College (now University) in Bristol, RI, and got her Masters at Southern Connecticut State University. She started her teaching career in 1983 by interning in Tennessee. Later, she got the opportunity to be a substitute teacher at East Haven High School and shortly after, became a permanent one following Mr. Fiore's departure for Gateway Community College. Mrs. Harkins said that when she got the job she "fell in love with teaching, that was my passion: working with students, teaching students ... in a subject that I loved. Science [and] Biology."
Beside teaching Biology, Mrs. Harkins taught other subjects such as Marine Science, Chemistry, and Forensics as well. She says that her favorite classes to teach were Forensics (because of the crime scenes) and Chemistry. Her favorite memory as a teacher was when her first graduating class came back from college and said that they "felt prepared" for their careers because of her teaching. Harkins did not just teach her classes; she coached various sports such as cross country, Pom Poms, and track and was an advisor for Chess Club and the National Honor Society.
After teaching for a total of 32 years, an opportunity showed itself to Mrs. Harkins to become Assistant Principal of EHHS. She had just finished her 6th year administrative certificate in 2011 when former EHHS Assistant Principal, Mr. Proto, announced his retirement. When Mrs. Harkins found out that she got an interview for this position, she was "literally jumping up and down. I was so excited about it. … I was excited when I got the news from Mr. DeNuzzo." During the interview, she was very confident saying, "I didn't feel any doubt, or reservation, or fear. I was just so excited." Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, the principal, mentioned her pride and that she had "checked off all the boxes" for the role as Assistant Principal. He also mentioned that in her interview, Harkins was "confident, passionate, and genuine." Harkins has been Assistant Principal for seven years.
Over Mrs. Harkins' 39 years in education, she had made a lot of accomplishments. From being acknowledged as Teacher of the Year by the American Chemical Society, to the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) citing the "growth that we've seen in education", Mrs. Harkins has done a lot for EHHS and the community it serves. Possibly the most notable thing she has accomplished is building a connection with her students and fellow staff. Mrs. Carla Marsico, a World Language teacher and leader, says that Mrs. Harkins was a "wonderful teacher [and] fantastic administrator" who helped her "like to come to work." Additionally, Ms. Li Martin, Health Science and CNA Teacher, says that Mrs. Harkins "helps create a culture of support [and] camaraderie among teachers." Former student Amy Lauren said that, "[Mrs. Harkins] was an amazing science teacher. One of my favorites." Mrs. Harkins mentioned that her favorite accomplishments during her time at EHHS were her creations of Gallery35 (EHHS's Art Gallery), the Buzz Stop (school store), and her work with CTE courses, including the addition of culinary and art classes. An additional achievement of Mrs. Harkins was her creation of the Top 10 Lunch for the top 10 students in a class and a teacher of their choice. EHPS Superintendent Ms. Erica Forti talks about this and Mrs. Harkins' work in CTE saying, "The breakfast not only celebrates the students and their hard work, but helps demonstrate the impact educators have on students and their success. Mrs. Harkins has also supported our Career and Technical Education departments and worked on managing the Perkins Grant that provides funds for specialized equipment and materials to support the programs."
At the start of the 21-22 school year, a new hire will take over Mrs. Harkins' position as Assistant Principal. Mr DeNuzzo said that during the interview process, there were 124 applicants, and the choices were narrowed down to a group of 25 people, then 9, and then 3 finalists. After this process he said, "Our new Assistant Principal’s name is Mrs. Amy Farotti. She will start this summer." According to North Branford High School's website, Mrs. Farotti was a science teacher and co-leader of the science department there.
Many people are saddened by the departure of Mrs. Harkins, but are proud of the work that she has done for her community. Students and staff agree with EHHS Senior Julia DeMaio, "I will miss her so much!"