Avon Assistant Superintendent Jody Goeler is leaving the Avon school district and has been appointed Superintendent for Connecticut Regional School District 14, which covers Bethlehem and Woodbury.
Goeler was introduced at Monday night’s regular Region 14 school board meeting held at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. His appointment was a unanimous decision by the board, according to Stephen Sordi, the Region 14 Board of Education Chairman.
Sordi said that Goeler beat out 19 other applicants for the position.
“We thought Jody’s educational background and leadership style would be a great fit for Region 14,” Sordi said. “Avon has had some challenging times, and he has conducted himself with honor and dignity. He comes from a very respected school system.”
Sordi added that Goeler’s strength in curriculum development and affable personality style convinced the 20-member search committee that he was the right man for the job.
Teachers, administrators, first selectmen and parents, representing Bethlehem and Woodbury, as well as the full school board, participated in the search.
“We had consensus among all 20 (members) that he was the strongest candidate,” Sordi said. “It was phenomenal.”
Goeler, who will assume his new responsibilities on Aug. 15, said leaving Avon will be bittersweet.
“I’m grateful for the tremendous support I’ve received,” he said. “I’ve had many opportunities to grow and build my capacity as an administrator by working with people dedicated to improving the lives of students. That’s significant to me.”
The Avon school district has not yet announced his replacement or an interim superintendent to fill the vacancy.
Avon Board of Education Chairman Peggy Roell described Goeler as “a fantastic educator who is willing to listen to everyone’s point of view then work with people to collectively determine what’s best for the district."
“He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to lead the Avon schools in good and difficult times, to make tough decisions, and to build consensus among various groups,” she said. “We’re sorry to lose him, but happy for him, knowing that he’s ready to lead Region 14.”
Goeler informed his staff and faculty about his new job late last week, and the news comes before the Avon High School graduation ceremony Tuesday.
Avon elementary reading specialist Jodi Kryzanski called his leadership style “fair and genuine. His actions have inspired and empowered those around him to keep focused on doing what is right for students,” she said.
Goeler, 54, has spent nearly 20 years in the Avon school system. He taught language arts from 1983-1988 and the following year was interim director of English and foreign language before moving to the New Milford school system.
In 1999, he returned as principal of Avon Middle School, a position he held for seven years. In 2006, Goeler was promoted by former Superintendent Dick Kisiel to assistant superintendent.
When Kisiel retired in 2009, Dave Erwin was named to the top spot. However, he resigned after eight months on the job and Goeler stepped up to the plate last March as interim superintendent.
He was barred from a permanent appointment due to a district conflict of interest policy that prohibited him from becoming superintendent of schools while his wife, Nora remained an art teacher at Avon Middle School.
Goeler had support from dozens of community members and teachers who appealed to the town council to waive the policy, to no avail.
In March, Gary Mala began work as the new Avon superintendent and Goeler returned to his post as assistant superintendent.
According to Kisiel, Goeler is an administrator “who sees opportunities as opposed to obstacles, which is critical. He has the leadership qualities and scholarship necessary to bring about change in a school system. His skill set fits nicely with the needs of Region 14.”
“I know he’ll be missed here in Avon,” Kisiel added.
At Region 14, Goeler will replace Gregory Little, who has served as interim superintendent since March. Little filled in during the search to replace the previous superintendent, Dr. Robert Cronin, who moved to the North Haven school system after four years leading Region 14. Cronin previously worked in the Naugatuck school system.
Goeler's new regional school district includes a high school, middle school and two elementary schools in the system. There are approximately 2,100 students in Region 14 overall in comparison to a student base of 3,600 in Avon.
Randy Leaning, an Avon parent advocate who has worked with Goeler for more than a decade on education committees and projects, was quick to call him “an exemplary leader who leaves a positive footprint wherever he goes. He betters the world.”
She added, “We’ve been very lucky in Avon to have someone as outstanding and special as Jody as a role model. We wish him well.”