The outgoing superintendent of public schools in Shelton, Freeman Burr, said his goodbyes at the final Board of Education meeting of 2015, the last one of his term.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time here in Shelton,” said Burr. “I feel truly blessed to have served the students, staff and parents of the community. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked here. I’ve done things here that I’ve never imagined myself doing and I’m just thankful for the opportunities.”
Burr thanked the board members and the city’s teachers in his farewell speech for helping to raise the bar of student achievement during his term. He is currently weighing his options for his next move.
“I am amazed at the work you guys have done, especially in the face of some amazing challenges,” said Burr.
He gave special recognition to his assistant superintendent, Lorraine Rossner, and his successor, Dr. Christopher Clouett.
“I would be remiss if I left out my colleague, my right-hand person, and friend Lorraine Rosser,” said Burr, “for making sure the minute details and more were in place and for holding things together all the time.”
“It’s bittersweet,” said Rossner. “Definitely a bit of a change because of how closely we work with each other, but I know Chris will do an amazing job.”
Board members shared memories and experiences they’ve had with Burr during his six years as the city’s superintendent.
Board Chairman Mark Holden, during an emotional and appreciative speech, said it was an honor to serve with Burr.
“It’s been an absolute honor and privilege to work with Freeman and I wish him the best of luck in a long and happy retirement,” said Holden.
Burr’s term began in 2009 and his term was extended another year in 2013.
Before his departure, Burr said, he will be establishing two annual $1,000 scholarships for high school seniors beginning this year. One of them is in honor of his mother and will be awarded to a female senior who persevered and graduated. The other scholarship is in honor of his father and will be awarded to a student whose father is a veteran and who is pursuing a career in accounting.
Burr said more details on the scholarships will be revealed in the future. He added that five annual $100 awards will be given to five elementary spelling bee winners and five $100 awards to math competition winners. He said he also plans to donate $1,000 to the Boys & Girls club in Shelton in memory of David Marquito.
After the meeting, Burr said that since he has family members still going through the city’s school system people will be able to see him at the occasional board meeting, but he looks forward to being on the “other side.”
He added that going forward he hopes to see the relationship between the boards of aldermen and education to improve, but he remains skeptical.
“You don’t know a man’s journey until you’ve walked in their shoes, and I’ve said previously the elected officials on the city side use rhetoric versus fact. They really don’t want to walk the path that we do in the school district. They think teachers are overpaid and I don’t think they understand what teachers have to do to be successful. Even though the mayor was an educator, he walked in those shoes 40 years ago. Walking in those shoes today is much different. I bet some of our officials haven’t walked in those shoes since they left [school].”