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Bethel High School Principal Dr. Cosentino Reflects On 11 Year Career

After dedicating 11 years guiding Bethel school students and staff to achieve excellence, Dr. Patricia Cosentino will be moving on.



After dedicating 11 years guiding Bethel school students and staff to achieve excellence,  Bethel resident Dr. Patricia Cosentino will be leaving the Bethel school system on July 1, 2012, to become Superintendent of Schools for Connecticut Region 12.

"Making the transition from Berry School to Bethel High School has been amazing,"  Dr. Cosentino said. 

Working in Bethel schools changed her as a person in many ways. "When you are a principal of a school you are a leader of a family. You feel their joy and pain. You help them work through it and support them. As you get older you get wiser and try to teach the students and staff how precious life is. Don't sweat the small stuff," Dr. Cosentino said.

From the first day Dr. Cosentino stepped into Berry School as principal in 2001, she faced unexpected challenges. The Berry school renovation project was underway when she began her job there.  She joked that, "Renovation projects seemed to follow me. Some of the hallways were completely dug up." 

She supervised a second renovation project when principal at Bethel High School.  She said her approach was "Be proactive and positive."

Dr. Cosentino worked for three schools in New York City, the most recent was P.S. 206 in Queens, before becoming principal of Berry School in 2001. In 2006, she then went on to become the Bethel High School principal.

Cosentino received her Doctorate in Instructional Education from Western Connecticut State University in 2008, and has advanced Bethel High School to be accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Prior to her position as principal of Bethel High School, she said, "My experience was mostly in elementary schools. High school is a totally different animal."  She added, "Good teaching is good teaching regardless of what grade you are teaching.  If learning is meaningful and relevant, students tend to latch onto it rather than it be boring."

By approaching school matters with a certain mindset, Cosentino said, "I wanted to address the climate of the building, the cohesiveness of staff and students," Cosentino said.  "I worked hard. We are a service organization. Parents and students are our clients," she said.  


Beginning with a survey that asked everyone at Bethel High School to list the three best and three worst things, she said, "I soon realized the students did not feel prideful." Dr. Cosentino said. "The students exact words were, it's a dump."

"I was determined to get rid of the negative vibe that surrounded the building," she said. "I worked hard to get the townspeople to vote and pass the renovation."  

Dr. Cosentino said, "We had Operation Spruce Up in October 2001."  She also received input from teachers and students about curriculum. "You start to give people a voice. Getting teachers to buy into our mission and delegating jobs for them to do was what lead to success during the building renovation. It raised spirits."

Dr. Cosentino said, "The gym made a big difference, you want to be proud." She felt that sports and being an athlete is very important to student. "People felt respected and listened to."

"Our school is definitely ahead of the curve," Dr. Cosentino said. "Our mission is to get college and career ready. Programs such as the Cap One Project, a 4 year plan culminating in a project to integrate their skills, are examples of this," she said.  "Others are ROTC, the Digital Academy of Arts and Science, Western Connecticut State University, scholarships, and colleges available." 

"There are numerous other projects to prepare students, such as taking college classes, internships, work study, and the EMT program. The staff is dedicated, programs are part of other programs, and we give them much information. We encourage students to join something," Dr. Cosentino said. She indicated they have an "Activity Fair" each September where students can join various groups.

When asked what her greatest achievement was, Dr. Cosentino said, "The thing I am really proud of is giving the students and teachers a voice so they can really become part of the decision making process, to lead us in a way that is beneficial for everyone. It is important to be a community of learners so we can accomplish great things. I am confident that Bethel High School will continue onto the path of greater things."

One of Dr. Cosentino's favorite memories was doing a Bethel Educational TV (BEtv) program on channel 26. "I loved the experience of doing the Aunt Pat and Zack Show which then became the Aunt Pat and Justin Show," she said.  Dr. Cosentino was on the show with her two nephews Zack and Justin, who are Bethel students. The topics covered were anything school-related or Bethel community events.

Dr. Cosentino was successful in having a career and family life, and said, "Organization is the key to success. Do not go anywhere without your agenda book.  Prioritize. The goal in life is to work hard, but play harder."

"The people, the staff, the students, the families, and my administrative colleagues are what I will miss most," she said. 
 
She is looking forward to her next position and said, "I like a good challenge.  It's a district that has to grapple with a declining enrollment. Region 12 includes Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater." 

When asked if she has realized her dreams, she said, "My dreams are really to have a positive impact on the kid's' lives, so yes, in that regard, but I hope that there are more that I can send in a positive way."

The advice Dr. Cosentino would give to her successor is, "Be a good listener and try not to be reactive, be proactive.  Never put anything in writing that you could not say to their face.  Have fun.  It's a fun job."

Susan Clifford June 18, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As a teacher at Berry School, Pat Cosentino was an amazing person to work with. I walked into Bethel High with her at the onset of her career there and when I walk through the halls there now, I am over-the-top proud of her. That school has her touch everywhere I look because it is totally about the kids. Their pictures, their art work, their accomplishments all light up the hallways. We in Bethel were so lucky to have her for the time we did, she leaves behind beautiful, happy schools at Berry and the High School. She will be dearly missed more than words can say. -Susie Clifford
Donna Schneider June 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Dr. Consentino created an atmosphere of respect, compassion and community in BHS. She was a visible figure both in school and at events her students wee involved in. It is because of her personality, professionalism and mutual respect that the students of BHS are accepting, caring and respectful in all aspects of their life. We wish her the the best of success in her new position and Region 12 is lucky to be getting her. -Donna Schneider
Bob Rogers June 19, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Dr. Cosentino is one of those amazingly talented leaders. It starts from her honest, truly caring personality; you find yourself inspired to try a little harder.... then even more when you feel her excitement in your progress. My wife and I agreed on how she changed the personality of BHS as she declared herself "the new sheriff in town." The students, staff, parents and volunteers of Region 12 are very lucky to have Dr. Cosentino's talent and gift of making you feel special coming into their lives.
Beth Crane June 19, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Bitter? Pat Cosentino is a fabulous educator, it is unfortunate that you feel the need to be rude and disrespectful. As a Bethel resident, I have gained so much respect for Dr. Cosentino when she got rid of you! I am thrilled that you no longer teach in Bethel. I wonder how the CBEA would feel about your unprofessional comments Jamie...
Joan Pettersen July 08, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Ridiculous...Is your kid a loser? It is easier to blame the principal then take responsibility for what you created. Thank you Dr. C for ALWAYS telling it like it is!

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