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William Nagel '85/G'99 Says Being a Part of the WNE Family is Forever

By Kenneth Stratton '19 FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019 - 12:00 PM WNE100

“Being a part of the WNE family is forever,” says William Nagel '85/G'99. He’s reminded of it often, especially when he returns to campus, as he did on one memorable visit 13 years ago.

Long after completing his BSBA and MBA degrees, Nagel returned to campus with his family for a visit to the campus bookstore. There in the St. Germain Campus Center, he ran into an old friend: Dean Ted Zern. Not expecting the Dean to remember him - after all, Zern had worked with hundreds of students in his decades of service to the University. Nagel approached the man with a small hello, when he replied “Yes, Billy how are you?”

Zern hadn’t seen Nagel in almost two decades, but he remembered his former student. To Nagel, it’s relationships like these that make Western New England special.

When Nagel first started out at Western New England, he was fresh off a high school career he remembers as well-balanced, between academics, extra-curriculars, and social life. Looking for a similar balance in college, he was sure he’d find it at Western New England; and it didn’t disappoint.

“It was a small Western New England college, perfect for a kid from a small Eastern Connecticut town,” Nagel recalled. Very active in his first two years on campus, Nagel joined the Division III football team, pledged to Tau Epsilon Phi, and joined the dormitory’s house council, also serving as a Resident Advisor. He secured internships, received recognition for his work on campus, and heading into the last half of his undergraduate experience, decided to put more emphasis on his academics by scaling back on campus involvement a bit. And before long, he graduated.

“It was a community that valued individuals and came together to focus on the good of the community in the present and for the future,” Nagel said of Western New England. The business graduate held several positions in his early days post-undergrad, including at CIGNA, Rent-A-Center, and the Zayne Corporation, where he’d previously interned. “But I was not where I wanted to be for my family,” he added. And so, he returned to school.

Nagel found himself back at Western New England, working to obtain his MBA, finding support in his wife along the way. By the time he completed his MBA, Nagel had simultaneously begun teaching certification programs. While his career direction changed, his goal remained the same: serving the community. After taking up an internship with the Plainfield Public Schools in Plainfield, CT, Nagel knew he’d found where he wanted to be.

“The structure and intensity of the MBA program, working in a school during the day, and being a parent was the perfect recipe for my growth and success in a field in which I had no experience,” Nagel said, adding that his previous coursework and experience really helped as he made this leap into teaching.

Working six years as a grade one instructor, Nagel became Principal of the Plainfield Early Childhood Center in 2007.

“For me it was a natural transition and one that I sought. The transition enabled me to use more of my business background in terms of budgeting, managing people, and servicing my customers - parents and family members,” the Eastern Connecticut native said. For eight years after that experience, he’d serve as Principal of the Shepard Hill Elementary School in Plainfield, and today serves as Principal of Moosup Elementary School in Moosup, CT.

Nagel expressed that every day as a school principal comes with its own set of challenges, as the responsibilities of a school administrator are very different from those of a school instructor.

“My first obligation is to provide staff and students a safe, productive, and happy environment to teach and learn in,” said Nagel. “I place a tremendous amount of value on the relationships with students, staff, and families. Whenever something negative happens in a child’s life, our school plays a role in helping them, their families, or other students and staff that are impacted by it,” he added.

Every day, Nagel makes a point to greet the student as they pour out of the school bus and into the safe confines of the school. He gets to work with some of the staff members he studied under, and alongside the families he grew up with. Being so close to the community, he feels a certain sense of responsibility to be an empathic and understanding administrator.

“I have never forgotten the level of commitment that each Western New England faculty/staff member I interacted with seemed to have for me and all students on campus,” Nagel said. “That is what I want for my school and our school district in Plainfield. It is what every student and family deserves.”