David Engelson ’67/ ’70MS
For nearly three decades from the 1970s to early this century, David Engelson was pretty much Mr. Elementary School Principal in Vernon. For more than a decade since, he has been Mr. Hockanum Valley Community Council.
Engelson graduated from Eastern in 1967 with a degree in Educational Studies, and again in 1970, when he earned his Master of Science degree in Education.
After earning his bachelor’s, he started his career in a new special education program in Connecticut’s District 11, consisting of Chaplin, Eastford, Hampton and Scotland, teaching in Hampton. He loved his job, but one day in 1970 the District 11 superintendent pulled him out of a classroom and asked him if he wanted to be principal of Scotland Elementary School. Engelson’s response was essentially that he was not ready, but the superintendent assured him he was ideal for the job and would teach him what he needed to know. So at age 27, Engelson became the youngest principal in the state at the time, though the assignment was only part time. A year later the position became full-time and the compensation increased accordingly.
In late 1973, now accustomed to being a principal, Engelson heard about a principal job in Vernon. He rushed to meet the deadline and won the position as Principal of Lake School in Vernon, starting in April 1974. Ten years later he became Principal of Vernon’s Center Road School, and he stayed there until accepting a retirement package in 2002.
Not wanting to really retire, though, Engelson, a now prominent Vernon presence, won the position as Executive Director of the Hockanum Valley Community Council in Vernon. In 2011 he was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of the council, and he continues to serve in that position. The council is a social services agency serving the needy in Vernon, Ellington, Tolland and areas surrounding those Tolland County communities. Known for its food pantry, the council also provides Dial a Ride transportation, counseling, case management and other services for the needy, helps clients advance careers to rise from poverty, and coordinates with other social services organizations serving the area to improve services and avoid duplication.
“It is great to get up each morning and love coming to your job,” Engelson said. “I have been blessed.”
Engelson was presented with the Humanitarian Service Award in 2010 by the Lions District 23-C and the Outstanding Citizen Award by the Rockville Rotary Club in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Rockville Bank, a longtime former board member of Rockville General Hospital and ECHN, and a past president of Congregation B’Nai Israel in Vernon. And if you spend any time with him, he will likely have you laughing.