Bridgeport’s Assistant Principal at Bassick High was ‘open, welcoming’

BRIDGEPORT – Arthur Peter “Pete” Ziegler III, a beloved career educator in the school district, passed away suddenly over the weekend. He was 51 years old.

Ziegler is remembered by friends, family and colleagues for his many decades of involvement in the schools of Bridgeport, including Bassick High School, where, in his last days, he was vice-principal.

“So many students and colleagues are doing better because of him,” said Michael Testani, the district superintendent and one of Ziegler’s closest friends, both inside and outside the school system.

Ziegler was born in Springfield, Mass., And spent many of his formative years in the Montville area. He later became a longtime resident of Trumbull and is survived by his wife and three children.

Ziegler made his debut at Bridgeport schools as a trainee teacher at Bassick during the 1996-97 school year. He was a long-term substitute teacher at the school for a few years, until he was hired full-time in 1998.

“He’s an extremely smart guy, a phenomenal teacher. I think he would probably be the most proud of the work he did as a classroom teacher and the work he did to develop relationships with children, ”Testani said.

Over the years, Ziegler, professor of humanities, has taught a range of courses: world civilization, history of the United States, history of Latin America and Puerto Rico, sociology and psychology. Ziegler was also part of an education committee working to redesign the social studies curriculum for grades 7-12, and was a crucial voice on that team as she sought to meet the moment.

“He was good at getting children to discuss, discuss and debate the issues the country is currently facing,” Testani said. He described Ziegler’s class as “an open forum” for children to share their thoughts and beliefs: “Whatever your perspective, it was open, welcoming and respected that.

Arthur Peter Ziegler IV, Pete’s son, recalled stories of his father going the extra mile for his students, from writing grants for more funding to hearing stories of his parents buying clothes or shoes for students who needed them.

“The students of the early 2000s who couldn’t afford to buy prom dresses, he so gladly took them out or gave them the money to buy the dress so they didn’t feel left out.” , did he declare.

Among his most notable accomplishments during a two-decade tenure was his efforts to partner with local colleges and universities for dual enrollment and credit options for high school students.

“Peter really helped us put together this first college program for high school kids,” said John Fabrizi, former mayor of Bridgeport. “I traveled with him every day knocking on the doors of university presidents.”

In 2012, Ziegler and his colleagues in the district partnered with Housatonic Community College, the University of Bridgeport, and Fairfield and Sacred Heart Universities. Officials at these schools said the programs encourage students to supplement their studies with a college degree.

“He was so strongly motivated not only to support his students,” Fabrizi said, “but to help them become the best they can be, to help them imagine – and pursue – their dreams.”

Fabrizi, who was Ziegler’s direct supervisor while the duo worked in adult education, said he was also heavily involved in not strengthening the district’s GED program, an alternative certification path to a degree in education. ‘high school education, but his drive to bring old dropouts back to class and later graduation.

“Students who knew him earlier in his career would be so excited to see Mr. Ziegler in the evening in the adult education program,” said James Denton, district director of adult education. “You could really see the impact he had on his students. “

“He was one of the night school’s most beloved administrators – he had a rapier wit, a quick smile and a great sense of humor,” said John Burgeson, who worked with him there. low.

In recent years, Ziegler was deputy principal at Central in 2013, before returning to his first school district house, Bassick, in 2019. He was an administrator there, where friends described him as the happiest.

Ziegler received his BA in History and Social Sciences from Eastern Connecticut State University, his MA in Secondary Education from New Haven University, and his 6th year diploma in Educational Leadership from Sacred Heart.

He has won several awards and scholarships as a teacher and administrator of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund and the Bridgeport Rotary Club, among others, and has presented on school reform and social justice at the United States Department of Education. United.

He was also a frequent educator-mentor for incoming teachers and administrators taking on new roles, both informally and officially as a state-certified Connecticut teacher mentor.

“He was one of a kind,” Fabrizi said. “Our school system will miss him terribly. “

Outside of education, friends and family remembered Ziegler for his love of music, especially Jimmy Buffett; its hold on books and Thomas Jefferson, and books by and on Jefferson; its involvement with people with disabilities; and his dedication to his wife of 25 years, Stacie Gilleo Ziegler, and his three children.

A guided tour was scheduled for Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Abriola Parkview Funeral Home in Trumbull. Visitors were encouraged to wear masks and social distancing, and can make Special Olympics contributions in lieu of flowers.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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