Barrett, Katherine M.
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Katherine Mary Barrett passed away peacefully on July 31, 2014 at Apple Rehab in Guilford, CT.
Born on December 23, 1920 to Thomas and Mary Barrett, she lived at 218 Nicoll Street in New Haven, CT for over 70 years. After retiring in 1991, she moved with her sister, Marie, to Madison, CT to share in the daily lives of their sister Jayne Telford and her family.
Kay attended Worthington Hooker Grammar School and graduated in 1937 from Hillhouse High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education at New Haven Teachers College (now Southern Connecticut State University) in 1941. She immediately entered the teaching ranks while also pursuing graduate work. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Yale University in 1950, her sixth year diploma in graduate studies from Fairfield University in 1953 and completed her doctoral studies (all but dissertation) at Fairfield University.
A beloved, innovative, dedicated educator for 49 years, Kay began her professional career as a first grade teacher in Cheshire ('41-'44) and then taught in Fairfield ('44-'48).
In 1948, she embarked on a 42 year career in the Milford School system. She taught 1st grade at Walnut Beach School for 2 years. Then, at age 29, she became the youngest principal in the history of the state of Connecticut - a record which still stands - when she served as the principal at Fort Trumbull Elementary School ('50 - '54). Kay then moved to Point Beach Elementary School where she was an esteemed principal for 10 years ('54 - '64). Former colleagues say that "while Miss Barrett was the principal at Point Beach School, she created such an esprit de corps that her teachers regularly turned down substantial pay raises offered at other schools so they could continue working under Miss Barrett's tutelage".
In 1964, Miss Barrett entered the administrative branch of the Milford School District when she was appointed by Superintendent Joseph A. Foran to the newly created position of Director of Elementary Education K -6. In July of 1966, she became the Assistant Superintendent of Schools K-8 where she supervised 18 elementary schools and was responsible for developing many major innovative programs which benefited the children and parents of Milford. Miss Barrett supervised all special academic programs in grades K - 8 including music, art, reading, multi-media exercises and physical education.
Some of the programs which Miss Barrett instituted included: The Head Start Program in the summer of 1966; Milford's precedent-setting non-graded summer program for the lower grades; 7th & 8th grade summer school programs concentrating on reading and math skills; curriculum revisions in elementary social studies, math and reading; creation of the elementary educational media centers combining library, audio-visual and other facilities; implementation of Foreign Language Education in grades 7 & 8 and a computer program in grades 4-8 in 1983; and a health education program for grades 6, 7 & 8 in 1987. After years of controversy and healthy debate surrounding the health education program, Miss Barrett remarked that she was very proud of establishing the Adolescent Development Program which provided students with instruction in nutrition, substance abuse, peer pressure, sex education, and personal health.
She was honored by the City of Milford in January 1970 when the Chamber of Commerce named Miss Barrett Citizen of the Year. When the late Joseph A. Foran was informed of Miss Barrett's award he said "her recognition was richly deserved. Her primary interest has always been the child - first as a teacher, then as a principal and now as assistant superintendent. But, her interest did not stop there. It embraced the whole Milford community - parents, friends and associates. People will never know how much she contributed to the Milford schools". In 1991, she was honored as Person of the Year by the United Way of Milford.
A voracious reader, Kay could insightfully and knowledgeably discuss topics ranging from politics, music, and world events to technology, sports and history. As a young adult, Kay found time for tennis, golf and travel. An avid sports enthusiast, she closely following the pro golf, tennis and ice skating circuits, the Yale and Notre Dame football teams, the Boston Red Sox and Celtics. Kay's 'green thumb' enabled her to keep flowers blooming whether on a window sill or in the garden.
Kay actively volunteered with many organizations in New Haven and Milford and often took leadership roles in their activities. A founding member of The Milford Fine Arts Council, her dedication to that organization was recognized when the Mayor of Milford declared June 18, 2008 Katherine M. Barrett Day. She was also the Director of the Religious Education Program at St. Joseph's Church, a member of the Catholic Women's Club, the Beta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, the United Way of Milford, the SCSU Alumni Association and others.
Kay quietly but generously supported many charities especially those whose mission was education or assisting children, the less fortunate or the ill. In 2008, she created The Katherine M. Barrett Children's Series: Access to Arts Enrichment at SCSU. She envisioned the theater series "bringing the love and knowledge of the arts to youngsters of all economic circumstances or academic abilities so they can reach a new level of awareness and success".
Kay's infectious laugh, her affectionate greeting and her sparkling Irish eyes were well known expressions of her kindness and genuine thoughtfulness. Kay was lovingly admired, respected and recognized as the matriarch of the Barrett family. She devotedly and happily cared for Marie throughout Marie's many years of poor health. Spending time with Jayne & Bill and their children, with Helen Sullivan and her family in Stonington and with her many dear friends in the Milford, New Haven and Madison areas brought great joy to Kay.
Kay is survived by her devoted sister Jayne Telford of Madison; her loving nieces and nephews: Mary Jane Telford of Allegany, NY; Patricia Jones of Woodbury, CT; Katherine Telford of Alexandria, VA; William (Sharon) Telford III of Madison CT; and Thomas Telford of Seekonk, MA; her precious great nephews and great niece: Keith (Katty) Jones, Kevin Jones and Jacob Jones; Barrett, Megan and Colin Telford; Samuel and Nicholas Telford; and great, great nieces Kaya and Kyra Jones. She is also survived by special 'adopted nieces' Pam (Tim) Guidera, Ann Sullivan, and Eva (Michael) Guidera and many cousins and dear friends.
Kay was predeceased by her dear sister Marie Barrett in 2001; her cherished brother-in-law William Telford, Jr. in 2012 and her parents Mary & Thomas Barrett.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: SCSU Foundation (designated to The Katherine M. Barrett Children's Series), 501 Crescent Street, New Haven, CT 06511 or to St. Joseph's Church, 129 Edwards Street, New Haven, CT 06511
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, 11 am at St. Lawrence Cemetery in West Haven.
Published in Connecticut Post from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2014