Last Tuesday was a bittersweet day for Jennifer Baglin who left her post as Director of the here in Branford. Sitting at her desk with a chocolate “goodbye cake” and few farewell cards in front of her, Baglin said, “I am very grateful for the experience.”
Baglin, who led the FRC for four years, will be starting this week as the School Readiness Coordinator for New Britain Public Schools. No one has been hired to replace Baglin’s seat at the FRC and the position has not yet been posted on the school’s job board.
In addition to cutting her commute in half – Baglin is a resident of South Windsor – in her new position, she will be overseeing the early education of 140 to 200 new students every year enrolled in seven programs in the New Britain school system. A vast change from Branford, Baglin said she worked with 150 to 200 kids, ages 3-5, total in her four years in Branford. “Every year,” she said, “I knew the names of all the kids and the names of all the parents. I like to have the personal connection.” Of her new gig, she said, “It will be different.”
Though a tall order, the job change is a challenge Baglin gladly accepts and for Branford, her departure is a loss. Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez stated, “The District is happy for Jennifer and wish her the very best in her new position. I am sure she will find her new position exciting, rewarding and challenging.”
Baglin has a masters degree in education, has worked as an elementary school teacher and is a mother to two teenage boys. To Branford, she brought a wealth of knowledge and experience that helped her advance the early education programs of the FRC, which was established in 1999. In addition to preparing the FRC to receive accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children she also worked to fulfill the requirements of the center’s grants.
Baglin explained that when she came to the FRC four years ago, the center was receiving money from a school-readiness grant and a state grant for the center. The school-readiness grant, which was issued in 1999, was done on error as Branford did not meet the requirements (percentage of students on lunch assistance). Last year was the first year, said Baglin, that the center was able to run independent of that error grant money.
In addition to working with grants – something she’ll also do at her new post – Baglin is proud of the ESL classes offered for parents of students at the FRC as well as the "Parents as Teachers" program, which encourages parents to take an active role in student learning inside and outside the classroom. Additionally, Baglin oversaw the FRC all-day pre-k and daycare.
As a former teacher, Baglin said early education is crucial to success in the school system. “Children who attend a high-quality early education program tend to do better in elementary school and are more ready for kindergarten,” she said. “Kids who leave our program are so very ready to go to school.”
For two years, she recanted, a student with social developmental issues attend FRC and when she saw the student years later at the elementary level he was “flourishing.” He no longer needed teacher support during social interactions or adult intervention, she commented.
As Baglin moves on and leaves an empty desk (for now) in the Indian Neck School near , she said she’s grateful for the opportunity. To the community she parted, “Thank you for the fact that I had this wonderful opportunity to be of service to the families here… and I’ll miss the beach!”