Jeanne McDonagh Retires from NCHS, Leaving an Art Legacy

After 32 years of dedicated service, art teacher Jeanne McDonagh is retiring at the end of this school year. Known for completing numerous projects not just within the high school but throughout the whole community, McDonagh once hosted a photo exchange with Afghan girls who forbidden from taking photos by the Taliban, filmed videos for the entrance of the Glass House and created a mural for the school cafeteria. 

“I started to put up anything that was posted in the newspaper about what we are doing in the arts on a bulletin board outside my classroom,” she said. “There is no room on the board because we just keep adding what we have shared with the community and connecting with them on a lot of different levels.”

Seven of McDonagh’s students have earned National Scholastic Art Awards and she has been honored by the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society as one of 19 local women to have made a major difference in New Canaan. 

“I always say ‘yes’ when someone asks if I want to be involved in something,” she said. “It opens up a world and you learn, you do, and you work. The results are always very surprising.”

McDonagh started her career in art as a teacher in New York City. 

“I walked into the classroom and thought these kids were so lovely and polite,” she said.

Board of Ed Votes 6-2 in Favor of New School Start Times Schedule; Plan To Take Effect Next April

The Board of Education on Monday voted 6-2 to change to a school start times schedule that will see elementary schools start first in the morning (at 7:50 a.m.), followed by grades seven through 12 (8:30 a.m.) and then grades five and six (9:15 a.m.). Dubbed “Scenario A” by New Canaan Public Schools officials, the schedule would take effect next April. The Board had also been considering a “Scenario B,” which would have seen grades five and six start first (7:45 a.m.), follows by grades seven through 12 (8:30 a.m.) and the elementary schools last (9:15 a.m.). Saying additional school buses could be hired on a trial basis, Board member Dionna Carlson urged the elected body to either adopt Scenario A on the condition that the district “solve for” an elementary school start time no earlier than 8 a.m., or else adopt Scenario B.

“We need to sharpen our pencils—7:50 is nice but 8 o’clock is not an unreasonable request and I think that because we have these local schools, you could add a few more buses in the early tier and then those buses would be done getting those kids back quicker than they normally would be if it was a Saxe or high school drop off at the end of the day,” Carlson said during the meeting, held both in persona and via videoconference. “The research that I read about elementary start times is when you are looking at giving high schoolers more sleep, don’t ever do it at expense of the younger kids,” she added.