EASTCONN is proud to announce that 2020 marks its 40th year of serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut’s schools and communities.
Established by state statute under the leadership of its first Executive Director, David Calchera, EASTCONN was formed to create Connecticut’s 6th public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center. EASTCONN’s non-profit mission was – and still is – to initiate, support and facilitate partnerships, collaborations and regional solutions that respond to the needs of all learners through exemplary programs, products and services.
Under Calchera’s leadership, EASTCONN’s collaborative approach and entrepreneurial spirit enabled its staff to provide the quality education programs and services needed by the 33 towns and 36 districts that comprise EASTCONN’s region.
The new agency started out as a $2 million special education cooperative, but grew rapidly as it strove to meet the region’s increasing demand for mandated and educational programming and services. Within a matter of years, EASTCONN had become a well-established, multi-service agency, providing a range of offerings that included: professional learning for educators; special education programs; transportation; early childhood programs and coaching; magnet high schools; technology and assistive technology services; adult education programs; organizational support services, and more.
When Calchera retired in 2004, then-Assistant Executive Director Paula M. Colen took his place. Colen retired in 2017, after successfully leading the agency’s continued expansion in areas like adult and special education, technology, early childhood and transportation, to name a few. What had begun in 1980 as a small cooperative with a handful of employees had by 2020 grown into a full-service agency with 650 employees. A new era began in 2017, when the agency’s third Executive Director, Gary S. Mala, took the reins.
“I deeply respect EASTCONN’s success and longevity, and the high-quality programs and services it provides,” said Mala. “And I pledge to maintain that excellence as we move into the future.”