Irene Lee Cornish, a retired Superintendent of Stratford Schools and an Attorney, died Sunday, May 31st following a lengthy illness.
In addition to her extensive career as a school administrator and attorney in CT and Chelsea, MA, she loved fashion, art, literature, traveling and exploring different cultures. Irene especially loved Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where she visited often with her daughter and sister. One thing people agree on is that Irene stopped at nothing to inspire positive change in communities. She was a role model for youth, educators and assisted families in need.
Irene grew up in the Rockville section of Vernon, CT., and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in French, Spanish and Secondary Education. She received her Master's degree in French from Central Connecticut State University and her administrator's certification for Secondary Education from UConn in 1978.
Irene taught French and Spanish from 1963 to 1971 at Rockville High School, Manchester Community College from 1971 to 1973, and Tolland High School until 1978. She then became the Assistant Principal at Bloomfield High School, all while pursuing her law degree from UConn. After acquiring her J.D. in 1987 from UConn, she was a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Trial Practice. Irene was a partner at the law firm of Marder, Kallett, and Cornish, where she practiced for seven years.
In 1994 she returned to her first love, education, and was named Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services for Chelsea, MA, before being promoted to Superintendent. In 2004 she left Chelsea and was named Superintendent of Public Schools for the Stratford School District.
Among her other accomplishments and affiliations Irene was a faculty member for Business Law at Manchester Community College from 1992-1994; an adjunct faculty member at Boston University Graduate School for Personnel Management and Labor Relations in Public Schools from 1999-2004. She had professional memberships with CT and MA Associations of Superintendents, National Association of Bilingual Educators, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Connecticut Bar Association, Board of Directors of United Way of Coastal Fairfield, Board of Directors of Beardsley Zoo, Stratford Rotary Club, Board of Directors of A Different September Foundation, Board of the Boston University Residential Charter School, Chairman of the Education Committee of the Chelsea Rotary Club, Les Treize Business and Professional Women’s Organization, The Links, Inc., Board of Directors of the Shore Educational Collaborative, Advisory Board of the School of Allied Health Professions at UCONN, and Advisory Committee Board of the Rockville/Manchester, CT hospitals and was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Special Education.
In addition, Irene was the recipient of the following awards: The Links, Inc. Diamond Award, Milford Chapter (2006); Recipient of Educational Advocacy Award for Children’s Community Programs in CT (2008); Phi Delta Kappa Sorority’s Distinguished Leadership Award (2009); Jesse Banks Foundation’s Humanitarian Award (2010); Sojourner Truth Award from the Greater Bridgeport Club of Negro Business and Professional Women (2010); Outstanding Superintendent of the Year from the Connecticut PTA (2012); and the Lewis J. Latimer Society’s “Phenomenal Women Award”.
Her husband, Dr. James P. Cornish, former Director of the School of Allied Health at the University of Connecticut, her mother, Hope Wright Lee, father, Raymond Lee and her brother, Kenneth Lee, all preceded her in death.
She is survived by her beloved daughter, Jodi P. Cornish, loving sister, Veronica J. Lee, brothers, Cloyd and Ronald Lee, nieces Tiffany and April as well as several other nieces and nephews.
Upon hearing of her death, friends and business associates have expressed, “We have lost an incredible leader, mentor and friend who always carried herself with poise and strength. She touched a lot of lives and will be truly missed.” The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the support of friends and former colleagues. A private
graveside ceremony was held in Ellington, CT on June 4th. In lieu of flowers or gifts, you are welcome to honor Ms. Cornish by donating to the National Kidney Foundation or the Dr. James P. Cornish Scholarship fund. To sign the online guestbook please visit hawleylincolnmemorial.com.
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