GMMS Welcomes New Principal

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By Kim Becker
“I knew it would happen eventually,” said Sue Henneberry, principal at Granby Memorial Middle School, “I just didn’t think it would be so quickly. This is home.” After 27 years in the West Hartford school district that is quite a statement.
Henneberry has spent most of her career teaching, counseling and disciplining middle school children. She is passionate about this transitional period, helping students and parents successfully manage the leap to high school. As a math and science teacher who rose to Assistant Principal at Sedgwick Middle School, the whole educational and social process of this group holds few surprises, though much delight, for her.
While parents have expressed some reservations about the possibility of sixth grade moving to the middle school, Henneberry, who went through a similar move as a teacher, is thrilled. She pointed out to the Board of Education that the building was designed to hold all three grades and once did. Her plans for the transition include having the sixth grade on a different hour-long block schedule and in a separate part of the building. She is very aware of the developmental differences between sixth and eighth graders and is working to limit contact between the grades. Also, the sixth grade will have fewer transitions during their day, with only two academic teachers (math/science and language arts) as well as the unified arts teachers. The older grades have six teacher contacts during their day.
She is also cognizant of creating a three-year culture at the middle school. The continuity will strengthen the school by increasing parent involvement. However, the seminal year will be challenging with two-thirds of the student body, both sixth and seventh grades, new to the school. Henneberry anticipates structuring events to get to know the building and the staff. One that she plans to continue is having eighth grade student leaders give tours to younger students. The groups are lead through several stations around the building. “The change from a tentative approach to knowing where they are going is amazing” at the end of the event, Henneberry says.
Above all, Henneberry has been impressed with the students, teachers, staff and parents at the middle school. She is also deeply appreciative of the connections between the schools as she gets her bearings in this new environment.