Child Development back on course with Keane’s hiring


Katie Walsh

Newly hired Erica Keane hopes to generate community interest in the Little Hatters’ pre-school program.

Taylor Hay, Feature Editor

The 2017-2018 school year has been quite a tumultuous one for DHS’s Child Development course.

Lynn Dewey, the former teacher of the class ( new for the 2017-2018 school year after longtime teacher Linda Mitten retired last year), left mid-year because of personal reasons. Once students received notice about Dewey, they worried the school wouldn’t find a suitable replacement and that the preschool would “never” open.

Although the class was covered by substitutes in Dewey’s absence — and Mitten even reappeared for a day or two to try to right the ship — students felt unchallenged and that there learning was affected. The students were “considering withdrawing from the class,” said senior  Kaitlyn Castro, because they were convinced that the Little Hatters’ daycare would not open under current management.

Fortunately enough, there was an inspired and experienced teacher just two zip codes away who was yearning for a change. Erica Keane taught at New Milford High School for 14 years after receiving her bachelor’s in Physical Education from Springfield College and her master’s in Health Education from Southern Connecticut State University.

She said she always had an interest in the development and psychology of young toddler life, and being a mother gave her the proper experience to work within the daycare. Although Keane does not have the family and consumer sciences degree, she is qualified to teach the class, and it will renew next year as a health credit.

As an alumni of Newtown High School, Keane explained that “I was nervous when I was given the job because when I went to school, Danbury was ‘so big and tough.’ I didn’t expect to be welcomed as kindly as I was.” Although her department in New Milford was fully functional, she admits that Danbury has an extra level of opportunity and more room for her personal and academic connections with students.

“We didn’t know what to expect [with the replacement],” said senior Gabbi Lillo. “We were told that it could be anywhere from a long-term sub to a real teacher. I think that Ms. Keane was a pleasant surprise for most of us, who truly thought we’d never be on track to open the daycare.”

Keane has been forward-thinking with building the curriculum that she needs to incorporate before the preschool opens next week.

“When I got here, students were uninspired, and many didn’t come to class. I think the problem is that before I was here, students lost their influence,” Keane said. She plans to reinstate that influence and continue to inspire students to join the teaching force.

“The best part about teaching is that it matters,” Keane said. “The hardest part about teaching is that it matters every day.”