Hit the Books
Hazel Hobbs brings experiences as teacher and mother to her new role as chairman of the New Canaan Board of Ed
Hobbs has devoted her career to serving children
When Hazel Hobbs was principal of New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue public middle schools in Greenwich, she realized the importance of connecting with children early on. At Hamilton, the outreach programs she developed raised test scores from the bottom third to the top third in the district, and attendance rates climbed from last to best.
That was in the early 1990s, while Hobbs was putting three children of her own through New Canaan public schools. (She’s lived in town with her husband, Michael, founder of Hobbs Construction, for forty-four years.) She would go on to cofound Pear Tree Point School in Darien. In December, Hobbs was elected chairman of the New Canaan Board of Education. Some would say the appointment marks the pinnacle of her career, but Hobbs would likely contend her new role offers her one more way to serve children.
The daughter and granddaughter of school teachers, Hobbs minored in education at Goucher College and received a Master of Arts in Teaching at Manhattanville College.
Hobbs will oversee a school system that’s had considerable success in employing the most effective teaching methods and strategies. “New Canaan schools have been successful at looking at the skills necessary for the twenty-first century,” Hobbs says. “Those skills—analytical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration—are now part of the curriculum.”
Now, increasingly, Hobbs is being called upon to respond to changes in the educational landscape. Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed overhauling Connecticut’s public education system by, among other things, expanding early childhood opportunities. Hobbs is cautious in her praise of his initiatives. “They’re very well intentioned,” she says. “But early childhood education has to be high quality, and that takes money.”
In the meantime, Hobbs is finding ways to fund her own initiatives. She serves on the advisory board for the Lone Pine Foundation, which named her volunteer of the year for the past two years. Hobbs used the award money to sponsor workshops for preschool teachers to learn to teach preliteracy skills. Should tougher measures be required, there’s little doubt Hobbs will stay the course. Says Abbey, “She is gracious and lovely, but also resolute and persistent when she needs to be.”