By David Drury

ROCKY HILL – A top administrator for the Rocky Hill schools has announced she will retire June 30 and go to work for her former boss at the nonprofit Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

Marian Hourigan, the district’s well-respected assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will step down after 26 years in public education. She has been in Rocky Hill since August 2008.

“It was a very difficult decision. I have very mixed feelings. It’s been a wonderful community to work in and it’s very hard to leave,” Hourigan said.

On July 1, she will rejoin former town superintendent Jeffrey Villar at CCER, where she begins work as director of school and district partnerships. The mission of the New Haven-based agency is to reduce the state’s long-standing academic performance gap between poor, largely minority urban districts and suburban schools.

Hourigan came to Rocky Hill as Villar’s first hire. The two worked together in the Meriden district, where she spent 20 years as a classroom teacher and administrator, the last seven as principal at Thomas Hooker Elementary School.

At Rocky Hill, Hourigan directed an overhaul of the middle and high school curriculums; instituted data mining techniques to track student scores on standardized tests and worked to narrow the achievement gap at West Hill and Stevens elementary schools. She has headed district-wide implementation of the Common Core standards, which she defends against critics who say they are being pushed too fast.

“I believe they will prepare students for college and careers. We’ve done a lot of work and I wouldn’t want to go back on it,” she said.

One of her pet projects – full-day kindergarten for all local students – remains on track for implementation in the fall.

Her expertise in curriculum pushed the Rocky Hill district “a decade forward,” former board of education Chairman Bill MacDonald said. “She’ll be a hard one to replace.”

Superintendent Mark Zito said Hourigan is a “dedicated, knowledgeable, and hardworking educational leader and her retirement marks a significant loss for the Rocky Hill public schools. Marian’s work in the areas of curriculum and instruction has been extremely beneficial and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her.”

Hourigan said she wanted to file with the Teacher Retirement Board now to allow Zito time to find a successor.

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