Ledyard — Assistant Superintendent Cathy Patterson will succeed Michael Graner as superintendent of schools beginning Jan. 1.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday night to appoint Patterson, who has served as assistant superintendent for 12 years. Her 26-year career in the Ledyard school district has included positions as a teacher, special educator, curriculum coordinator, director of special services, assistant elementary and high school principal and elementary school principal.
After 10 years as Ledyard's superintendent, Graner will begin his new post as superintendent of Groton Public Schools in January. The Groton Board of Education offered him the position last week.
Ledyard school board Chairman Sharon Hightower said the board began meeting as soon as Graner became a finalist for the Groton position and decided Patterson's appointment was more appropriate than a full-blown search process.
"I think everybody expressed (Wednesday night) they were in full support of her assuming the superintendent position," Hightower said. "We felt that she was uniquely skilled given that she had done most of her professional work in the district."
"She really knows Ledyard," she added.
Graner said Patterson was a natural choice because the two have worked together for the past decade as a team.
"This was a vote for continuity," Graner said. "And beyond that, she is quite simply the finest administrator I've ever worked with. ... She really brings to the job just an enormous amount of talent and energy."
Patterson said she will miss Graner both personally and professionally but is "looking forward to the new challenges and new rewards of a new job."
"I love Ledyard," she said. "I've loved teaching in Ledyard and being an administrator in Ledyard, and I have dedicated my professional life here and I want to continue that."
The assistant superintendent position was advertised Thursday morning and will remain open for applications through mid-November. A search committee comprised of Board of Education members, administrators, teachers, a secretary and a parent representative will aim to hire Patterson's replacement by early 2014, though Patterson said she expects to be working on her own for the first month or two of the year.