Cheshire pioneer in early education intervention dies at 92

Cheshire pioneer in early education intervention dies at 92

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CHESHIRE — A former school superintendent, early intervention pioneer and namesake of the Stephen August Early Intervention Center died at the age of 92.

August was appointed assistant superintendent in 1958 and took the top job in 1967. He retired in 1984 after 26 years with the district.

August was a proponent of educating special needs children in the district and was among the educators who developed Cheshire’s first special education class in 1960. At the time the state didn’t mandate that the district provide local education for such students.

In an interview with the Record-Journal newspaper in 1984, August argued that special education students should be educated in their hometowns.

“We can’t just send kids away, it doesn’t work,” he said.

The early intervention center at Darcy School for 3- to 5-year-olds started in the early 1970s. August worked to secure funding through state and federal grants throughout his tenure, according to Record-Journal articles from the period.

Greg Florio, a former Cheshire superintendent who now leads the Capitol Region Education Council, said he worked with August in the New Britain school district. August retired from Cheshire schools but wasn’t ready to stop working, Florio said, and took a job in New Britain. He remembered seeing the former superintendent with a full head of white hair “and always a smile.”

August had a sense of humor and “knew his stuff,” Florio said.

“He was the whole gamut, the education side, the special education side, he was well versed in the business side,” Florio said.

The early intervention center established in Cheshire preceded many others in the state and was the model for other districts. When it began, other schools sent children to Cheshire.

“The early intervention model set up at Darcy was groundbreaking. They worked with Yale, they worked with all kinds of experts in the field,” Florio said.

Florio said August was passionate about education and intervention for young special needs students.

August was raised in Meriden and joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17, serving in the Pacific theater during World War II. He finished high school at Cheshire Academy and attended Drake University and UCONN.

After retiring, August taught part time at Southern Connecticut State University. He lived in Niantic.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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