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Pavia Appreciated for Wit, Caring, Calm

Susan Carroll wonders whether the person hired to succeed principal Tony Pavia at New Canaan High School will be able to fill his shoes.

"His amazing wit, his calm, measured approach to adolescents, the patience and empathy he offers parents – all of these qualities will be hard to find in another educator," said Carroll, director of New Canaan High's college and career center.

Colleagues and friends think the world of Pavia, who Thursday announced his retirement from New Canaan High at the end of the school year.

Pavia said he is most proud of the strides, including adding extracurricular options, made in his tenure. And Pavia navigated an increasing enrollment — now at 1,350 students, up from 970 when he began in 2002 — and extensive building renovations.

"I feel we not only survived, but we got better," Pavia said.

Carroll, who served on the search committee that interviewed Pavia, said the outgoing principal has "a unique ability to connect to students" and strives to do right by them. She hopes the person that follows him can emphasize the importance of character and engage faculty and students alike.

Steven Swerdlick, assistant superintendent of New Canaan Public Schools, credited Pavia with always seeing the bright side. "No matter how difficult things get, Tony always figures out a way to raise everyone's spirits through his ability to see the humor in a situation," Swerdlick said.

Pavia has received hundreds of letters and emails from well-wishing parents, former students and friends since his announcement. Pavia said he hopes he had a positive impact on the school and the community.

Though he hopes the students always achieve, "I consider the students first and foremost as people," he said.

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