NEW CANAAN, Conn. – David Abbey and Steven Swerdlick don’t usually seek the spotlight. But a crowd of well-wishers made sure the retiring New Canaan Schools administrators couldn’t avoid it Tuesday night.
Gifts, playful jokes and a few tears were the order of the day at Waveny House as Abbey and Swerdlick were the guests of honor at a retirement party.
Abbey, retiring after serving as superintendent for nine years and in the New Canaan district for 20 years, received parting gifts, including a mini school bus, a football and a stuffed snowman, the latter a tribute to Abbey’s worries of whether the five public schools needed to be closed in bad weather.
Abbey joked that the party was “the first town-sponsored bar mitzvah.” The only thing missing, he said, was his aunt pinching his cheeks.
He also thanked all of the members of the New Canaan Board of Education who served during his superintendent tenure. “It is a rare superintendent who has personally liked every board member he’s ever served with and that’s me,” Abbey said.
Swerdlick, assistant superintendent for human resources, is leaving after 13 years in the district. He was feted with a gift certificate for a chicken Caesar salad, a favorite dish of his, and a copy of the last teacher contract he helped to negotiate. Swerdlick served on many search committees, including the ones that brought Bryan Luizzi, hired last year as principal of New Canaan High School, and incoming superintendent Mary Kolek to the district.
Deciding to retire wasn’t easy, Swerdlick said. But he said the district is in good hands. “I don’t think there’s a better administrative team anywhere."