Teacher with ‘track record of success’ promoted to elementary principal in Roxbury, Bridgewater

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Dr. Emily Rhew will be the new principal at Booth Free and The Burnham Schools in Region 12.

Dr. Emily Rhew will be the new principal at Booth Free and The Burnham Schools in Region 12.

Emily Rhew / Contributed photo

Region 12 Schools has elected one of its own to take on the role of principal of two of its elementary schools.

Emily Rhew, a Newtown resident and special education teacher at Booth Free School in Roxbury and The Burnham School in Bridgewater, will now become principal of those schools, beginning July 1.

She’ll replace Principal Cathy Colella, who is retiring June 30 after 18 years in Region 12 Schools.

Rhew has been a special education teacher at the two elementary schools since 2012. A replacement for Rhew’s current position has not been chosen yet.

During Rhew’s time as special education teacher, she was awarded 2019 Teacher of the Year and received her doctorate at Danbury’s Western Connecticut State University in instructional leadership.

“I've done extensive research on Dr. Carol Dweck's Theory of Mindsets and have published journal articles pertaining to Dweck's theory of a growth mindset and its effects on motivation and self-efficacy of special education students,” she said. “I also have held leadership roles within the district as head teacher and instructional leader for special education.”

After having multiple leadership roles within the district and teaching at WCSU for the education master’s department, she said “it sparked a whole new passion — not just for inspiring and supporting students' growth — but cultivating leadership in my colleagues as well. I find so much joy in sharing knowledge, excitement for learning and celebrating the successes of our students and teachers.”

She said she didn't have reservations about leaving teaching because she "truly enjoys" working in Region 12 and doesn't have to leave the district.

“So once this opportunity presented itself, I knew it would give me the benefit of growing professionally and also staying with the colleagues, community and families I care about,” said Rhew, in regard to Region 12, which serves students from Roxbury, Washington and Bridgewater.

Rhew said her primary goals when starting off the new school year will be to work with the Burnham staff, families and the Bridgewater community to collaborate and “get the multi-age configuration up and running successfully from day one.”

She has also been brainstorming with the teachers at Booth Free School about enhancing collaboration and mentorships between the grade levels for both teachers and students.

Superintendent Megan Bennett said Rhew was chosen from a candidate pool of 41 applicants.

“Many of these applicants are currently sitting principals seeking an opportunity to lead the top schools in Connecticut,” Bennett said in a release. “Dr. Rhew stood out because of her strong academic background, commitment to the schools, proven track record of success, and her focus on building a positive climate at both schools for staff, students, and community members.”