Special education leader Dr. Kim Hapken to retire in August

Dr. Kim Hapken, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services for the Ridgefield Public Schools, announced she will retire at the end of the summer, the district confirmed in a press release Friday, June 15.

Hapken will stay on until August 12 of this year to help the schools find a new special services leader, the release said.

The schools noted Hapken’s advocacy for students with disabilities in the two years she has served the Ridgefield community. Hapken expanded teacher training “of both special and general education staff in order to improve outcomes for students and forging positive relationships with families,” the district said.

She also developed the schools unified sports program, which pairs special needs student athletes with their able-bodied peers in school sports.

“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Hapken. She has brought steady leadership to an important domain in our district and she will be missed. I wish her all the happiness in her retirement,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller, in the release.

Fourth to leave

Hapken is the fourth senior administrator to retire or resign this year. Her resignation will leave the schools with two senior administration positions to fill heading into the summer; after Assistant Superintendent of Schools Kim Beck announced her resignation in May.

The district is also searching for a permanent Superintendent of schools.

On Monday, June 11, the school board appointed Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote as Interim Superintendent until a new candidate is hired. At that meeting, the board also hired a full-time business manager — Dawn Norton, who previously served as New Canaan’s Chief Finance Officer — after Paul Hendrickson retired at the end of December. Henderson was replaced in the interim by Allan Cameron.

‘Talented and dedicated’

Hapken joined the Ridgefield Public Schools in June of 2016.

She began her career in 1984 as a speech pathologist for Waterbury Hospital, where she created the Speech-Language Pathology Department. She also oversaw the professional training of doctors, nurses, and medical staff in speech pathology, the district’s release noted.

Hapken worked for the Naugatuck and Litchfield school districts before serving in the Bristol School District Administration — where she worked for 16 years.

In 2014, Hapken received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University.

Hapken mentioned the hard work of an “incredibly talented and dedicated staff,” in her letter to the district.

Finding a replacement candidate to fill her position will begin immediately, and will be a “comprehensive and thorough process,” with “stakeholder feedback and input,” the release said.