by Pamela Young, Published March 25, 2010
YPSILANTI - When Eastern Michigan alumna Connie Knott Toigo became principal of the Ann Arbor Preschool and Family Centers 10 years ago, she faced several major challenges. Its preschool and center were struggling and its facilities were scattered throughout the district.
It was a job suited to her role as a leader in early education. Toigo used her skills to turn a challenging situation around and was able to relocate the preschool and centers to a centrally located building.
Toigo, who was 47, died Dec. 30, 2009 of complications from cancer treatment.
Eastern Michigan University honored Toigo for her dedicated work in education when she was posthumously inducted into the University’s College of Education Hall of Fame, March 25. She was the 46th inductee since the Hall of Fame was established ten years ago.
"Connie is a wonderful example of excellence in teaching and her administration of childcare centers,” said Michael Bretting, interim dean of the College of Education.
Hall of Fame inductees must be outstanding Eastern alumni in the field of education, or College of Education alumni who have distinguished themselves in education or other professions.
In a letter sent to preschool parents after Toigo died, and reprinted in the Ann Arbor Public Schools newsletter, Ann Arbor Superintendent of Schools Todd Roberts praised Toigo’s dedication to high-quality early childhood education for all children in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
“She was a passionate advocate for children with disabilities and families with limited economic resources,” he wrote.
Toigo received a master’s degree in child development and a bachelor’s degree in child psychology from Eastern Michigan University.
After graduating in 1986, she began her career at Washtenaw County Head Start, working with low-income parents and children in their homes, and collaborating with social service agencies to meet their needs.
She also worked as assistant director at the University of Michigan Health System Child Care Center and as a consultant before joining The Ann Arbor Public Schools in 1998.
Her husband, John Toigo, has established the Connie Knott Toigo Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Early Childhood and Special Education at Eastern Michigan University. Memorial contributions to the fund should be sent to the attention of Kelly Simpson at the EMU Foundation, 1349 S. Huron St., Ypsilanti, Mich. 48197. The scholarship is designed to continue her work with special needs and at-risk children and their families.