Remembering a Westie

West Haven High School principal Pamela Gardner, who passed away on Oct. 25, provided her support to thousands of students and encouraged greatness from everyone around her.

Mrs. Gardner was a 1987 graduate of our school and became its principal in 2009. She died after a long battle with a rare form of cancer.

Mrs. Gardner impacted the lives of many individuals, whether it be with a small gesture or through recurring support for anyone who came to her for help. That was the type of woman Pamela Gardner was. She was someone people went to when they were down or just wanted to talk.

Many people who encountered Mrs. Gardner know what an amazing woman she was.

“Mrs. Gardner was everything to everyone,” said Acting Principal Dana Paredes. “She was a super mom, a super principal and a super friend. She’s made me the administrator that I am, and left an impact that I’ll never forget.”

Senior Liana Suarez said she met Mrs. Gardner after winning the very first Lil’ Miss Westie in 2010. Suarez was nine years old at the time.

“I let her take my picture and she complimented me on my solo and overall performance and then said ‘Can’t wait to see you run this when [you] get to the high school,’” Suarez said.

Now being the assistant director of Lil Miss Westie, Suarez said she will always remember that moment when Mrs. Gardner took her picture and made that prediction.

Suarez also valued Mrs. Gardner as the high school’s principal.

“The school was her second home, and she thought about us, our safety, and concerns,” Suarez said.

Suarez said the hole Mrs. Gardner’s passing left “can’t be filled.”

As an educator Mrs. Gardner was always around students, engaging in conversations with them and being there whether she was needed or not. She was always involved in some way in as many activities as she could.

Mrs. Gardner was not only there for her students. She was there for her coworkers and friends. Mrs. Gardner continuously helped those who came to her for guidance.

Kevin Dickson, a teacher at West Haven High School and the head of the science department, described how supportive Mrs. Gardner was.

“When we thought the world was against us, Mrs. Gardner always knew the perfect way to make us realize that nothing could hold us down,” he said.

You will continue to be there for your family, to support your husband and children as they accomplish endless success.

— Kevin Dickson

Mrs. Gardner went out of her way every day to solve problems and to create an environment that was open for all.

Richard Diedrichsen, a former English teacher and co-worker of Gardner at Bunnell High School in Stratford, said she was deeply respected that school.

“As I got to know Pam, I realized that she was fully focused on the students, consistently getting ‘into their heads,’ which was one of my major goals; and she supported me, showing interest in my teaching style,” Diedrichsen said.

Throughout Mrs. Gardner’s life, she held an admirable trait of connecting with those she came across and providing a positive atmosphere. Mrs. Gardner has been a prominent figure in many lives. She will always be a part of the Westie family and in our hearts.

Mr. Dickson closed with a message for Mrs. Gardner, who is survived by her husband Scott, her daughter Mackenzie and her son Kevin.

“As you are awarded your angel wings and you enter the kingdom of eternal happiness, you will continue to be there for your family, to support your husband and children as they accomplish endless success, and to your Westies through our most challenging times,” he said.