The Board of Education on Monday honored Hazel Hobbs, a longtime New Canaan resident and educator who passed away June 20.
Hobbs was a “dedicated, loyal and longtime volunteer at the New Canaan Public Schools, and a cherished member of this board,” Chair Katrina Parkhill said during the elected body’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.
“She served on this Board of Education for multiple terms, including three years as chair. When she retired only a few years ago, we joined together to honor her for her exceptional contributions to our schools and our community over the years. Hazel was a devoted and passionate member of our community, and a leader in education serving both our community and many others around us. Her many years of service to education and our schools will continue to influence and inspire our work for years to come. She will be missed greatly. But I am certain her legacy will continue to inspire future teachers, volunteers and community leaders.”
The Board held a moment of silence to remember and honor Hobbs.
A Maryville, Tenn. native, Hobbs and her husband Mike moved to New Canaan in the late 1960s, where she began to undertake what her family called “a lifetime of volunteer service” in her obituary. A founding board member of First Presbyterian Nursery School, she also was an officer of the Center School, Saxe and NCHS PFA’s and creator of a documentary film about Center’s unique approach to curriculum and education. Hobbs became a second grade teacher at the beloved school and later as the school-wide writing coordinator. She would also work as principal of New Lebanon Elementary School and Hamilton Avenue School, both in Greenwich, and was founding headmistress of Pear Tree Point School in Darien.
A walkthrough visitation will be held 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Hoyt Funeral Home, and a service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. (In lieu of flowers, Hobbs’s family welcomes memorial contributions to Waveny Care Center or Family Centers.)
The Board of Ed and town honored Hobbs when she stepped down two years ago. During a regular meeting in March 2019, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi called her “one of the most knowledgeable, committed, insightful and caring educators that I have ever had the honor to know.” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, declared Tuesday, March 19, 2019 “Hazel Hobbs Day.”
Board of Ed member Dionna Carlson during the same meeting read aloud a letter from Mary-Ellen McDonald, a fellow longtime New Canaan educator who also had worked at Center School. One year after helping to found First Presbyterian Nursery School in 1969, Hobbs “arrived at Center School with her eldest son, Mike Jr., who was starting kindergarten,” McDonald wrote.
“This would be the start of a 13-year career at the school. The following year, Mike Jr. was in my first grade class and Hazel volunteered to be my writing aide, helping every week as the children learned to compose stories and reports. Soon she was PTC President, creating a film documenting the curriculum that was being developed at Center School. Then, since everyone was so amazed by her intelligence, teaching abilities and incredible work ethic, she was offered a position as a second grade teacher. After several successful years in that role, she became the Center School writing coordinator. Hazel was an essential member of the Center School team in so many capacities until the school’s closing in 1983.”