Ayer, Sargeant named Shelton High assistant principals

New Shelton High assistant principals Robert Ayer and Victoria Sargeant, right, with new interim high school Principal Kathy Riddle.

New Shelton High assistant principals Robert Ayer and Victoria Sargeant, right, with new interim high school Principal Kathy Riddle.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

The makeover of the Shelton High School leadership team is complete.

The Board of Education, at a special meeting Wednesday, July 31, voted to name Robert Ayer and Victoria Sargeant as assistant principals. This move comes one week after longtime district fixture Kathy Riddle was tabbed as interim high school principal for the coming school year.

“I couldn’t ask for better people to surround myself with,” said Riddle, adding that she cannot wait to “sit down and create a positive environment and climate not only for our staff but also for our students and the entire Shelton community.

“This is a great joy for me, and I am looking forward to working with all of you and sharing all the positive things that are going to be coming out of 120 Meadow Street this year,” said Riddle.

These moves finish the changes to the high school’s administrative staff — moves sparked from the police investigation involving former Principal Beth Smith and Assistant Principal John Skerritt. The investigation led to no charges, and both were reassigned, with Smith now the district’s head of special education and Skerritt an assistant principal at Shelton Intermediate School.

“It is exciting to me to be able to work with (new Shelton Intermediate School Principal) Dina (Marks) and John Skerritt at SIS,” said Riddle. “I think we will be a great team in merging what we do at the intermediate school and the high school together.”

Ayer, a Shelton resident, has been with the school district since 1999, starting as a social studies teacher at Shelton Intermediate School. He had been the social studies department chair from 2010 to 2016, before becoming the intermediate school’s dean of students. In that role he implemented the behavior management program, facilitated professional learning sessions and collaborated with classroom teachers.

“As a graduate of Shelton High School, a citizen of Shelton, a father of young children in Shelton, this is such an honor for me to come back and work at the high school,” said Ayer. “I look forward to starting this new era with Kathy. I’m very excited.”

When the police investigation began in March into Smith and Skerritt, which led to both being placed on paid administrative leave at the time, Ayer served as acting assistant principal under Ken Saranich, who was pulling double duty as principal of both the high school and intermediate school. Saranich has since been named the district’s assistant superintendent.

“While challenging, I feel I was able to manage my responsibilities successfully at both schools,” stated Ayer in his letter to Clouet seeking this post. “Not only was I able to gain valuable high school experience, but I was also able to positively contribute to the daily operations within my house and throughout the entire school.”

School Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet said Ayer has been part of the district family for many years and his assistance at the high school during the staff upheaval at the high school in the closing months of the past school year was essential.

“Bob was one of the individuals who helped fill in at the high school, and he was well received by the students and staff,” said Clouet. “I think he is ready and will be effective in the day to day (at Shelton High), but he’ll also be a great ambassador to young families in Shelton in letting them know what the school district, the high school in particular, is all about.”

Sargeant has been a mathematics curriculum leader at Shelton High since 2018, and prior to that she was a math department head at Wilber Cross High School in New Haven.

“I am beyond honored to be standing here today,” said Sargeant. “I know we will be a good team, and we will have some positive things come out of this year.”

As math curriculum leader for Shelton schools, Sargeant provided instructional leadership for the department in planning, development and implementation of district curriculum as well as observing teachers in class and evaluating their performance in math instruction.

“She comes with a strong background in math,” said Sargeant. “She has been well received by the teachers and students alike and will continue to help us with our math program and scores. But she is more than just math, she is a collaborative personality.”