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A Well-earned Retirement

Former Memorial School Principal Francis "Andy" Anderson at his retirement party.



After 38 years as an administrator and educator, Francis (Andy) Anderson retired as Principal of Memorial Elementary School, taking with him a treasure trove of memories.

"Seeing kids happily running into the school and knowing that you made a difference," he admitted, "was probably the biggest kick I got." Another highlight was having his own children "in the building where I was," noting he experienced his three daughters' middle school years, "as either a teacher or principal."

Anderson began his career in 1973 as a fourth-grade teacher working first in the then-rented classrooms at Sacred Heart, Central Elementary in the old St. Mary's High School and finally at Brookside. The Milford native was Assistant Principal at Woodland Elementary from 1983 to 1985 and Brookside Principal from 1985 to 1993. Anderson was reassigned to Memorial Elementary by then-Superintendent Tom Cullen.

In 2001, Anderson briefly left education to work at his brother-in-law's business as a sales representative, becoming principal of Palmer River School, Rehobeth in 2004.

The self-proclaimed "homie," returned to Milford in 2005, as Memorial Assistant Principal. "I was Mr. (Bob) Tremblay's assistant," Anderson noted. "The funny thing was that in 1998, I hired him as my assistant." When Tremblay was named Superintendent, Anderson assumed his old role, Memorial Principal in 2007.

During his tenure at Memorial, Anderson feels he was able to "bring a lot of social interaction with parents and families to the school." He said parents should be invited to be more involved in their child's education, suggesting monthly parent teacher conferences as a possibility.

He also suggested improving Milford's educational system by consolidating the three elementary schools into K-4 schools. "I do believe that a parent's ability to hook into a school for five years gives us a better chance to get them connected to us," Anderson said. Currently students attend one elementary school for three years and Woodland for two years. He said, "I just think we would have a better chance if the town reorganized into three distinct districts of K-4 schools ... to really work with parents on a five-year opportunity."

Reflecting on the difference in today's educational climate, he said technology has been a double-edged sword. "The communication's much quicker now," he said. "We still maintain some of the old skills of reading, writing and arithmetic ... but now it's more technology-driven and it's more resourceful than it's ever been before. I think that there are more options for choices and that creates a pressure unto itself. "

"The challenges of technology, the challenges of time, the challenges of so many more options" has lead the educational system to become more "goal oriented," said Anderson. "I think that assessments are valuable as reflections and to see if we're on-goal, but there are a lot of gains that we make with children that aren't noticed or measured or weighed: (like) getting attached to a kid and a family; guiding them and offering support."

Anderson is being replaced by the former-Director of Shining Star Early Childhood Learning Center, Lisa Burns, who he feels will be good at the job because, "She's got a big heart. I think she's student-driven, she's family-driven."

Anderson has no retirement plans. An avid golfer and collector of sports memorabilia, Anderson hopes to devote time to those hobbies. He plans to also spend more time with his family and perhaps be a substitute teacher or a community representative on the School Council.

When asked what else might be on his "to-do" list, Anderson replied, with a laugh, "Whatever my wife asks me to do."




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