Gazda named director of region’s educational resource center

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Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2021 7:45:23 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Todd H. Gazda, the new executive director for the Collaborative for Educational Services, got a somewhat late start in education, as he first worked as a contract attorney after earning a law degree in the mid 1990s.

But the Middlefield native later became a social studies and English teacher at Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington and then the school’s principal; he also had a stint as the principal of Chester Elementary School.

Gazda, who today lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, moved on in 2012 to become the superintendent of Ludlow Public Schools. But’s he now returning to work in the Valley as executive director for the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton. He starts in the position July 1.

He’ll take the place of William Diehl, who retired from the director’s post in December after serving 10 years. The search for a new director went nationwide and ended up attracting 80 applicants, according to the CES Board of Directors.

Dan Hayes, chair of the board, said in a statement that Gazda brings “a variety of skill sets, experiences and a great deal of enthusiasm” to the new job.

In a recent phone phone call, Gazda, a 1988 graduate of Gateway Regional High School, said he’s excited to be returning to the region and to be joining the Collaborative for Educational Services, the nonprofit agency that provides a wide range of educational services to school districts, as well as to individual teachers, students, and families, in Hampshire and Franklin counties.

“This is a really exciting time in public education, a time of change, especially as we begin to emerge from the pandemic and assess where we are and where we want to go,” he said. “And the Collaborative is perfectly situated to play an important role in that.”

Gazda, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford, is also vice president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and since 2018 he has taught courses at Collaborative for Educational Services in law and ethics for educators in the organization’s licensure program.

He says public schools in recent years have increasingly been called on to address more than just education, including students’ mental health and social well-being. In addition, there’s a push on to consider inequities in education stemming from social injustice and inequality in U.S. life in general, he says.

“What resources do schools need? How can we (CES) help districts with this?” he said. “These are the kinds of things that we want to address. We can really leverage our power to bring (school) districts together.”

The pandemic, which created huge challenges for students, teachers and school administrators alike, has also provided something of a roadmap for how schools can continue to benefit from online content, Gazda said, even as they ready for a return to their traditional “bricks and mortar” format in fall.

Having teachers and students become more adept and comfortable in using online technology is one benefit, he noted. And from a pragmatic standpoint, Gazda said, it was probably easier for him and his wife to meet on Zoom this past year for a conference with the teacher of their 9-year-old son than it might have been to schedule an in-person meeting.

Gazda, whose father, Robert, was also a principal in the Gateway Regional system, says education has been a “passion” from him ever since he switched over from the law, and he says he’s looking forward to seeing how CES can continue helping schools meet — and broaden — their goals.

“We’re on the cusp of some really exciting developments,” he said.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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