When it came down to making her decision to leave for , Stacey Gross said the answer was "the kids."
The Greenwich Assistant School Superintendent was hired Monday night by the Ridgefield Public School District as principal of 1,760-student Ridgefield High School. During her 20-year tenure in the Greenwich Public School system, Gross championed a series of firsts—all focused on students, faculty and parents.
And it is those firsts that Gross said she is most proud of—organizing and opening the fifth student house at Greenwich High School and establishing the International Baccalaureate program at Western Middle School. Despite the satisfaction of that work, and the student and staff development she worked on as assistant superintendent, Gross said,"I just missed being in the school setting. I missed the daily interaction, the energy of the students and staff. I missed the kids."
In an interview with Patch, Gross added, "It's hard to leave Greenwich. Greenwich has been great; very supportive of me, allowing me to grow professionally. ... I'm very proud of the work I've done but that piece of being around the kids and staff was missing." She conceded that the opportunity such as the one afforded in Ridgefield was not available in Greenwich.
Gross said she'll complete her contract and leave at the end of June, starting at Ridgefield High on July 1. And with the pending July 9 arrival of Greenwich's new school superintendent, Dr. William McKersie, Gross said, "I certainly will be available following his arrival" for any briefings he may want.
Ridgefield Schools Superintendent Deborah Low said, “Everyone commented that students found Dr. Gross approachable, a good listener, fair, and that they respected her. All references and site visit groups stated that her leaving would be a huge loss to Greenwich.” An interview team visited with staff, parent and teacher groups at last week.
Greenwich's Interim Superintendent Roger Lulow said in a statement, "She has provided important building, program and curriculum guidance in these roles and for a number of District-wide initiatives. Her leadership skills were recognized in being selected as the Middle School Principal of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Schools in 2010."
Greenwich Deputy Superintendent Ellen Flanagan said, “Anyone who has had the honor of working with Dr. Gross during the past 26 years knows she is first and foremost an educator who bases every decision on what is best for students. She has been tireless in her efforts to enhance and refine professional learning in the GPS in order to improve student outcomes."
Lisa Beth Savitz, president of the Greenwich PTA Council, said Tuesday evening, "I have found her to be straightforward, responsive, and a practical problem-solver, primarily concerned with the best outcome for students in any situation."
Savtiz added, "She has managed to creatively integrate parental input while ensuring respect for the professional expertise of staff. Ridgefield parents and the RHS PTSA will be getting a principal who is open to collaborating with them, and the Greenwich PTA Council will be the worse for her departure."
Gross may end up being one of the few at Ridgefield High who won't get a summer vacation since she plans to leave Greenwich and start in Ridgefield immediately. "I am anxious to get my feet wet" at Ridgefield, Gross said. "Ridgefield High School is a very high performing school with a strong community desire for excellence and strong community support. ... it's very similar to what I experienced here."