NEW MILFORD — Christopher Longo has pictures of himself as a young boy playing school, so it’s little wonder he has devoted his life to education.

Longo was appointed Tuesday to the position of principal at Schaghticoke Middle School, effective July 1. His salary for 2016-17 will be $136,000.

Longo now serves as assistant principal at the middle school, a position he took in mid-October after the retirement of Schaghticoke principal Dana Ford. Before that he was assistant principal at New Milford High School, a post he held since July 2012.

“It’s knowing that I could make a difference in kids lives that lead me to education,” said Longo, who holds a bachelor of science in biology, a masters degree in biology and a 6-year degree in educational leadership as well as a doctorate in education.

Longo said he always wanted to lead a school but didn’t take the “fast track” to that position. He was a biology teacher for 10 years at Bethel Middle School and 2 years at Bethel High School, where he served as science chair, before coming to New Milford as assistant principal at the high school.

“I wanted the experience in the classroom,” he said. “Now I have that to bring to the principal’s position. I think teachers appreciate that.”

Longo said that when Ford retired in September 2015, it was his opportunity to enter the middle school environment again, and a step toward achieving his goal, he said.

“I love going into the classrooms, seeing the kids perform in band practice,” Long said. “Paperwork can wait till the end of the day.”

Longo said he hopes to make some changes at Schaghticoke, but will wait until he confers with the staff and the administration at Central Office before talking about them.

Welcoming sixth-graders to the school will continue, he said; this was the first year that sixth-graders have attended Schaghticoke along with seventh- and eighth-graders.

“Most of the middle schools in the area are grades 6, 7 and 8,” Longo said. “Just 12 years ago, Schagticoke was also. It’s just that it’s been a long time since the three grades were together at the school that’s made some parents uncomfortable.

“We have orientation for sixth-graders before the school year starts similar to what is done for ninth-graders entering the high school,” he said. “We have to support the sixth-graders, make them comfortable and feel accepted, feel that they belong at Schaghticoke.”

Originally from Waterbury, Longo moved to Bethel after marrying. His wife, Lynne Longo, is a school psychologist in the Region 12 school district. The couple has two sons, ages 3 and 5.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352