Friday, May 20, 2022

Person of the Week

Green Acres New Principal Christian Strickland is Ready to Greet Students


Christian Strickland is excited to welcome staff and students back to school as the new principal of Green Acres Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Christian Strickland

Christian Strickland is excited to welcome staff and students back to school as the new principal of Green Acres Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Christian Strickland)

Since he was young, Christian Strickland was drawn toward the education field. With years of experience both in the classroom and as an administrator, Christian was recently named principal of Green Acres Elementary School in North Haven and is looking forward to welcoming students and staff into the 2021-’22 school year, which begins on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

“I’m incredibly happy to serve the community in this position,” says Christian. “We have a great team in a great district. I am so excited to come and serve North Haven Public Schools and the Green Acres community in this capacity.

“North Haven is a district with an incredibly positive reputation that is forward moving and forward thinking,” adds Christian. “Ive always loved teaching and working with children, providing that positive role model and having the ability to help others achieve their goals.”

Christian first discovered his love for working with children when he was in high school. His mother taught special education in Groton and Christian enjoyed spending time volunteering in her classroom. When he was recruited to the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) swim team, he knew the teaching was “a great fit.”

Christian, who grew up in Mystic, studied elementary education and psychology at CCSU where he met his wife, Amy, who played volleyball for the school. After graduating, Christian got his first job in the education field as a building substitute in the New Britain school district.

The couple then moved to Maryland where Christian began his masters at the University of Maryland, College Park, while teaching 3rd and 4th grade for five years. In 2004, Christian and Amy moved back to Connecticut, where Christian completed his master’s at CCSU.

Christian and Amy have lived in Middletown since returning to Connecticut, raising their two sons—Drew, who will be a senior at Middletown High School, and Cole, who is going into 8th grade. Amy works at their alma mater as the associate athletic director for compliance and senior womens administrators.

“We’re very proud of both of our boys, who are also both student-athletes—they know being a student comes first and sports should enhance your life and make it that much better,” says Christian, who is an avid triathlete, while his wife competes in marathons. “As parents, we want to make sure they see us being active and growing in our careers while improving our growth mindset. We want to set the example of being physically and mentally well outside of our careers makes us more effective in our careers.”

Once in Connecticut, Christian spent a decade working with Berlin Public Schools in a number of capacities. He served as a teacher, a math coach and interventionist, and an assistant principal in an elementary school.

Christian was hired as principal of Deep River Elementary School in 2014, working there for six years. Most recently, he spent a year working in Windsor Locks in a central office administration role, but he jumped at the chance to return to a role in an elementary school.

“The vast majority of my career has been focused on the elementary level—it’s a passion and a calling,” says Christian. “Working side by side with students and teachers is something I enjoy very much.”

As a new principal to the district, Christian hosted several ‘Popsicles with the Principal’ meet-and-greet events as well as Zoom sessions in order to get to know families. He has met with district administration, the PTA board, and teachers in the building and communicated with families through weekly email updates.

“Meeting people face to face is important to me and I make it a point to be accessible and respond to parents as promptly as possible,” says Christian. “Teachers have been coming in and helping me with projects or answering questions. We’ve had some one-on-one frank conversations about what they love about Green Acres and what’s important to them.”

When it comes to how he handles his role as a principal, Christian says he has a team-first attitude and enjoys interacting with students. He not only enjoys visiting classrooms, but spending time with the kids in the lunchroom or at recess.

“I’ll have high expectation because thats how we build pride in who we are and I’ll be modeling that, but I also want them to see the fun side, like trying to understand video games or other things that they’re into,” says Christian. “It’s a team effort here at Green Acres. Every student who walks through the door is our student and I want them to know their principal cares about them and wants them to give their best effort. We want to learn, but have fun in school, too, so I try to be an effective blend that allows students to see me as a person and build those connections.”

Over the past 18 months, Christian has seen just how important building those connections can be as COVID “turned our world upside down.” Christian has always known how challenging working in the education field can be, but with COVID, the challenges became like none he has ever experienced.

“I’ve always believed educators are some of hardest working people on the planet, but over the past year and a half, they’ve gone so far beyond,” says Christian. “I applaud educators for everything they’ve accomplished with technology while supporting social emotional learning. We are going to continue to make safety the No. 1 priority while providing engaging learning opportunities for all of our students. Education is incredibly challenging and demanding job but immensely rewarding.”

Despite the challenges, one of the first things Christian found when he took the job at Green Acres was how much pride the staff, students, and community have in their school. He is looking forward to continuing that growth.

“This community has tremendous pride in this school and I want to make sure students, staff, and families continue to feel that,” says Christian. “We want to keep that momentum going and recognize the student as a whole to ensure all students are growing and achieving at high levels and having their many different talents recognized.”

While North Haven is returning to school in a fully in-person model, COVID is still a concern and there will be precautions in place.

“While we have challenging work ahead, I feel like I couldn’t be in a better place to serve the community,” says Christian. “I want to thank the North Haven school district leadership, administrative team, the Green Acres staff, and the parent community for such a warm and supportive welcome. I couldn’t be happier and prouder to be serving as principal of Green Acres.

Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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