New Coordinator of Student Activities Looks to Help Students Find Their Place
Princeton High School's coordinator of student activities, Angela Siso, is among the new staff members assuming posts as the Princeton Regional Schools prepare to open on Thursday.
A special education teacher at the high school for seven years, Ms. Siso will continue to teach one special education class per day, while devoting the rest of her time to the newly-established position.
The district was able to hire new staff this summer to expand staffing and programming in Princeton following the approval of $1.9 million in funding during April's school elections.
Ms. Siso, 33, applied for the position because her background with the district, as well as her supervisory certification, made her a qualified candidate for the job.
"This just seemed like a nice progression," said Ms. Siso, adding that she is currently earning her doctorate in education administration at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Fl.
When asked how she finds the time to attend classes, she answered that it is a difficult, sometimes exhausting process. She made several trips to Florida over the summer, and will attend classes at a satellite campus in Pennsylvania on the weekends during the school year.
The South Brunswick resident said she is hoping to complete her degree by June 2006.
"I normally have high expectations for myself," said Ms. Siso, adding that she is very excited to take on her new position at PHS.
Growing up in Brick Township, Ms. Siso earned a bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish at Rutgers University. She later earned her master's in curriculum and instruction at Gratz College in Philadelphia.
Ms. Siso taught at an alternative high school in Howell for six years before coming to Princeton.
"I absolutely fell in love with the idea of working with kids," she said, recalling that she knew as soon as she completed her bachelor's degree that she wanted to pursue a career in education.
On taking a job in Princeton, she said: "I knew Princeton took education seriously. I was very passionate about my job and loved the idea of working in a district that supported my passion."
According to Superintendent Judy Wilson, Ms. Siso will bring a wealth of knowledge of the school's student body, faculty, and programming to the position, as well as lot of energy and talent.
"I'm delighted that Ms. Siso is taking on this challenge and continuing with us in the district in this capacity," she said.
Finding a Good Match
Ms. Siso sees her new position as an overseer of all activities in the building, including clubs and sports, as well as social activities, such as the prom.
She will be "someone who knows what's going on," who puts together a weekly calendar of events posted for students to view during homeroom, a new part of the school day starting this fall which will be held between second and third periods.
"We want to get more kids involved in student activities," said Ms. Siso, adding that the district would also like to make the students who already participate in activities feel more "at home in their environment."
Ms. Siso will serve as a liaison between the district and its students, someone who will keep in touch with student-led groups like the yearbook staff, the school newspaper, and the choirs, and make sure the students are satisfied with the district's current offerings, as well as helping look for ways the district can support each organization.
She will also encourage students who have no after-school activity to join one or start a club that best fits their interests.
"We feel there is so much importance in helping kids feel connected to the school they go to," said Ms. Siso, adding that with a large school that is growing even larger with construction, it's important to help students find ways to feel they belong.
Ms. Siso also intends to assist faculty and advisors when it comes to planning student events, as well as helping in school fundraising efforts and finding community outreach programs.
"There are so many things out there that kids don't know about," she said, adding that she wants to see students become more involved not only in the school's community, but the community at large.
On beginning a new school year in a new position, Ms. Siso said she feels that working in a school district like Princeton's will help make her job that much easier: "It's wonderful to work in a district where you can offer so much to your students."