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Public School Teacher Takes The Helm At Connecticut’s Education Department

Dianna R. Wentzell has been promoted from an interim position to be the commission of education in Connecticut.
Dianna R. Wentzell has been promoted from an interim position to be the commission of education in Connecticut. Photo Credit: Gov. Dannel Malloy's Office

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Dianna R. Wentzell, a former teacher with over 25 years of experience as an educator in Connecticut,  has been selected to serve as the new commissioner of the State Department of Education,  Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced Friday.

Wentzell has been serving as the department’s interim commissioner since January.

“Dr. Wentzell has dedicated her career to delivering a brighter future for the children of this state, teaching in several school systems, having a direct and positive impact on improving students’ lives, and preparing them for college and careers,” Malloy said. “Through smart choices, we’ve already raised the bar dramatically – graduation rates are at record highs, the achievement gap is down, and students are being prepared for the future like never before. Now what we need to do is set the bar higher to deliver a brighter tomorrow. 

"That’s why we’ve expanded families’ access to early childhood education, supported schools and districts that need it, and developed great teachers. Dianna is the right person to do this work going forward."  

Wentzell was excited by the announcement. “Connecticut is home to incredible students, great teachers, and fantastic schools. Our graduation rates are climbing and achievement gaps are beginning to close," she said. 

"However, we have much more work to do to ensure that all students are afforded the opportunity and advantages of high-expectations and a high-quality education," she said. "By working together with our educational partners, I will strive to build upon our success, perfect our systems, and continue to improve outcomes for our students.”

Wentzell began her career in education with the Farmington Public Schools system in 1988, first at Farmington High School and then later at Irving A. Robbins Middle School, where she taught political science, history and social studies courses, and helped lead the school’s gifted education program until 1998.

Beginning in 1998, Wentzell worked for four years in the East Haddam Public Schools system as an Enrichment Teaching and Learning Coordinator. She also taught for two years and served as a team leader and curriculum facilitator at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, teaching sixth grade history courses, developing social studies curriculum, and mentoring new teachers.

Following that, she worked with the Capitol Region Education Council in Hartford in several roles, including as Curriculum Director of the Institute of Teaching and Learning.

In 2008, she began working as a Literacy Curriculum Specialist for kindergarten through Grade 12 in the South Windsor Public School system, and became Director of the school’s literacy program in 2010.

She then worked for two years in the Hartford Public Schools system, first as Deputy Chief Academic Officer and Executive Director of Professional Learning, and then as Assistant Superintendent of Pre-K through Grade 12 Education.

Wentzell joined the State Department of Education in January 2013 as Chief Academic Officer. She was appointed by the State Board of Education in January 2014 as Interim Commissioner.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford.

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