TUESDAY, May 10—In a surprising announcement today, Maria Coleman told parents of Middlebrook students that she would be leaving her post as the school’s principal to become the director of human resources and general administration for the Wilton Public School district.

While she has only been at the school as principal for three years, since former principal Julia Harris retired in 2013, insiders say this move is a sign of the high regard the administration has for Coleman’s work and approach. Coleman joined Wilton Schools as a teacher at Miller-Driscoll before becoming an assistant principal at Wilton High School and later moving to Middlebrook.

GOOD Morning Wilton has reached out to the Board of Education and the superintendent, Dr. Kevin Smith, and we’ll update this article as soon as we have a comment.

UPDATED:  Superintendent Smith said that when current HR director Susan Paley told the district she’d be retiring at the end of this year, he saw it as an opportunity to find someone to “help advance and improve our agenda.”

“Maria became an obvious choice so I asked her to consider applying. She’s a very, very reflective person, and she thought long and hard and very thoroughly about the possibilities and benefits, and what it would mean for her personally—because she loves her work as principal of Middlebrook. I’m really excited she’s going to take this role on.”

Smith noted her passion and commitment to Wilton.

“She knows the district inside and out. She knows so many of the teachers so well, so many of the families, so she’ll be a real asset for us,” he added.

Bruce Likly, chair of the Bd. of Education, told GMW, “We are very pleased to see Maria move into a role that will serve the entire district. She has done an exemplary job in her role as Middlebrook principal and we are excited about having her as our next director of Human Resources.”

Smith said that there will be a search launched to find Coleman’s replacement at Middlebrook. “I’m very optimistic we can find someone of the same caliber as Maria, someone who can continue to strengthen the culture and support the teachers and kids, and really continue to make that school shine.”

Finding a replacement before the 2016-17 school year begins in September is a very doable objective, according to Smith.

“We’ll post [the opening] before the end of the week. This is, typically, for schools—late March, April, May—the hiring season. This is obviously a very attractive district, this is a very attractive school so I believe we’ll get a very strong, deep candidate pool and we’ll be able to surface a candidate who will be excellent.”

Here is the text of Coleman’s message to parents:

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers:

I am writing to announce that at the end of June, I will be leaving my position as principal of Middlebrook School to become the district’s Director of Human Resources and General Administration. Without question, this announcement is bittersweet for me. While I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to apply my seventeen years of experience working in elementary, middle, and high school settings to a new position, I find it difficult to leave the work I have enjoyed so thoroughly, particularly as principal.

When I joined Middlebrook’s faculty three years ago, I knew that I was joining a group of caring adults who honored and celebrated students in profound ways. I sensed that the staff not only understood the unique developmental changes students experience in the middle years, but that their appreciation of those changes helped them maximize student potential. In my years here, that belief has been reaffirmed countless times as I have witnessed the awe-inspiring love, care, and skill demonstrated by our teachers, administrators, and support staff. Knowing that our fine staff will be carrying out the work that has been ongoing reassures me that Middlebrook will experience continued success.

On a personal note, I would like to thank you and your children for making my time at Middlebrook so joyful. From the moment I assumed my post as principal, I felt the support of the parent community. You have consistently partnered with our staff to ensure the personal and academic success of your children. Through you and our wonderful PTA, Middlebrook has enjoyed many new improvements, including:  a fabulous playground, an outdoor classroom, special assemblies, and a yearly guest author. Your commitment to Middlebrook is evidenced by your communication, volunteerism, and support of our staff.

Most especially, I will miss working with your children. As budding adolescents, they have approached their time here with a combined sense of wonder, excitement, and growing independence, and it has been a privilege to see them grow. They have greeted me in the halls and classrooms, have joined me for lunch, and have regularly impressed our staff, visitors, and guest speakers with their intellectual curiosity and generosity of spirit. I know that they will enjoy great success in life, and I feel confident that they are in the best of hands with our teachers and administrators.

Thank you again for your support of me as principal; I look forward to seeing you and your children in the years to come.