Greenwich principal taking Holmes Elementary post
Paula Bleakley, the principal of Parkway School in Greenwich since 2005, will resign shortly to accept a position as principal of Holmes Elementary School in Darien. The resignation will be effective June 30, she said.
"Parkway is a unique, wonderful place, and this job is not something I'm giving up easily," Bleakley said. "I've never been happier in my career. Parkway teachers are the highest caliber professionally that I've ever worked with."
Bleakley said it was very difficult to tell staff and administrators about her decision Wednesday, but that she made the change in the best interests of her family. As principal of the Darien elementary school, she will be closer to home.
Bleakley's daily commute from Norwalk to Greenwich can take anywhere from 25 minutes to 1½ hours depending on traffic, she said. With her each day are her sons, who attend Parkway through Greenwich's policy allowing school employees' children to attend its schools if they pay tuition.
"We'll get home at 6 p.m., while other kids get home at 3:30 p.m.," she said. "The boys didn't get to play outside after school."
During her tenure at Parkway, Bleakley has been responsible for several initiatives, including a new literacy program and professional learning programs for staff, according to the district.
Bleakley said she is most proud of the collaboration among teachers, staff and parents that took place.
"We do things as a community," she said, citing the collaboration and speed in the development of Parkway's science program, in which teachers developed an approach that has children being asked open-ended questions rather than required to memorize material.
"It all happened in a year and a half. That's a very short time for teachers and students to change how they think and engage in scientific studies," Bleakley said.
At the district level, Bleakley was active on several committees and served as co-chair of the Elementary Report Card Report Committee.
Bleakley graduated magna cum laude from Connecticut College in New London in 1991, according to the district's statement. She went on to earn her master's degree in education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass., in 1992, and later a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven 1999.
Bleakley spent most of the early part of her career as a fourth-grade teacher at King's Highway Elementary School in Westport. She became its teaching administrator in 1999. She was appointed assistant principal of the school in 2001, where she worked until coming to Parkway School in 2005.
When asked if she had any advice for the incoming Parkway principal, Bleakley answered without hesitation.
"Continue to empower the teachers and collaborate with the community," Bleakley said. "That's what the staff and community will expect."