Former teacher Collette Fearon returns to lead school
BRIDGEPORT — As a child in St. Ann Parish in Jamaica, Collette Fearon helped her illiterate father navigate the world, giving her a first taste of being an educator.
This early experience with her father shaped her world and lead to a lifetime dedicated to education and literacy.
Fearon brings her love of reading and learning to New Beginnings Family Academy (NBFA) as the public, progressive charter school’s new Elementary School Principal.
Fearon emigrated from Jamaica when she was 12-years-old and came to Bridgeport’s East End with her family. She attended Dunbar Elementary School and graduated from Bullard-Havens Technical High School.
She thought for a while she was set for a career in Electrical Engineering.
“I was good at math and physics,” the admitted teacher’s pet said while sitting in her new office at 184 Garden St.
Fearon was a tutor from a young age and sensed the students she was tutoring liked her. Then she met English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Mary Psarras.
“She changed my life,” she said of the woman that would later become the Godmother to her oldest child. “She saw potential in me. She became everything to me from a teacher to a social worker.”
Along with her father’s struggles with reading, Psarras’ influence pushed Fearon toward a path of becoming an educator.
Fearon earned bachelor’s degrees in early education and Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and began her teaching career as a Pre-K educator for ABCD, Inc. From there, she moved on to become a first-grade teacher at Newfield Elementary School. When her family relocated to Georgia, she taught second-grade for three years.
In 2006, after moving back to Connecticut, she began teaching at NBFA as an English and Language Arts teacher for third through sixth-grade students.
Fearon returned to SCSU in 2008 to advance her education further, receiving her master’s degree in Remedial Reading and Language Arts. The following year, this led to her first job in administration as a reading specialist/literacy coach, at Stratford Academy.
She would then earn her sixth-year degree from SCSU in Educational Leadership.
Before making her return to NBFA this summer, Fearon was a District Instructional Coach for the New Haven Public Schools.
“I am excited to be back at NBFA and to learn along with the students and the teachers,” she said.
Favorite Color: Purple
Favorite Musician: Bob Marley & Biggie
Favorite Author or book: Hard to choose a favorite book or author, but if I had to : Eve Bunting
Favorite Movie: “The Notebook”
Favorite Food: Homemade mac and cheese
Favorite vacation spot: The Poconos
Favorite Sport: Track and basketball
She states three primary goals in her new position at NBFA: 1) Strengthen differentiated instruction for students at different levels 2) Enhance professional development for teachers to increase capacity in educating students and 3) Foster a love and culture of reading in the school.
“Reading is the gateway to all other learning,” she said. “It creates independent thinkers and it gives access.”
One of the “hidden gems” of her life story is a literature clinic she created nearly a decade ago. The clinic is just for boys. Why? Her father.
“It can be hard for young boys to break into reading; to feel comfortable reading,” she said. “I wanted to make sure (with the camp) that what happened to my father didn’t happen to anyone else.”
As the 2019-2020 school year quickly approaches Fearon has a message for teachers:
“Know your WHY. When you know your WHY, your WHAT will have an impact,” she said, quoting the comedian and public speaker Michael Jr.
As for a message to students:
“Be open to learning. New friendships. New relationships. New ideas,” but then she caught herself. “Have fun. Make learning fun, childhood goes so fast.”
Fearon says the biggest changes people will notice immediately under her direction will be improved teacher instruction to better serve the students.
She asks that teachers come with a growth mindset and “together we can overcome our challenges.”
“Know your WHY and your WHAT becomes impactful,” she said repeating her message to teachers.
Fearon says she is happy to be at NBFA and her overall goal is to continue to push NBFA to be a high performing school.
“These kids are me. I played outside in this heat. I grew up on the East Side,” she said. “I believe these students deserve the best.”
Fearon lives with her a husband, who just so happens to be an electrical engineer, in Stratford with their three boys Zion, 19, Ezra, 12 and Jude 2.