March 6, 2019

School Matters, March 6

PDS Receives $5 Million Gift

Princeton Day School (PDS) has received a $5 million gift, the second largest in the School’s history, from donors who wish to remain anonymous. The gift comes in two parts: $3 million, which the School has already received and has been put to immediate use; and $2 million, offered as a 1:1 challenge for new gifts and pledges received between now and June 30, 2019.

In announcing the gift, Head of School Paul J. Stellato noted that past fundraising initiatives have focused primarily on support for academic programs, facilities, professional development, and endowment for need-based financial aid. The new funds will be directed towards “a long-anticipated and critically needed facility”: a 30,000 square foot, LEED-certified athletic center adjoining the skating rink and containing a field house with two indoor courts for multi-sport use and four international squash courts.

Princeton Montessori Hosts Exchange Students From China

Eleven exchange students, ages 6-13, from Luo Music Education in Beijing, China visited Princeton Montessori (PM) School last month on a two-week cultural immersion exchange.

The collaboration between the two schools was designed by Lucy Luo, founder of the music school and former PM parent, and PM Head of School Michelle Morrison. Luo used to work in the Princeton area, according to a PM press release, and after she relocated back to China she continued to travel back to Princeton to enroll her son in classes at PM to improve his English.

The Chinese students, who traveled to the U.S. with their families, ranged widely in their proficiency in English, but assmilated well into their classrooms and absorbed American culture during downtime with their families, according to PM.

“Children on both sides saw the similarities across the human experience while marveling at and appreciating the differences in culture and language, all of which help to alleviate misunderstanding or biases,” said Morrison. “Programs like this reinforce the belief that world peace and harmony are possible.”

PHS Celebrates Black History Evening

A Black History Evening of Cultural Celebration: Sharing Our Voices and Talent Together took place on Friday, March 1 in the Princeton High School cafeteria.

Co-hosted by Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) and Pride Unity Leadership Sisterhood Esteem (PULSE), the event showcased Princeton Public Schools students’ and staff’s talents through all performing arts genres, including song, poetry, dance, and more.  The event also featured a special tribute to Shirley Satterfield, historian and longtime Princeton resident.

A New Jersey Education Association PRIDE “Black Lives Matter” grant helped to sponsor the event, which was organized by PPS social worker and coordinator of student and family services Lenora Keel, who is the advisor for MSAN and PULSE.

Waldorf School Receives Garden Grant

The Waldorf School of Princeton was recently awarded a grant from the Foundation for Sustainability that will allow the school to combat soil erosion and accessibility issues.

With the new funding, the school will be able to construct raised garden bed boxes that will increase harvest yields, provide better drainage, improve air circulation and nutrient retention in the soil, reduce pest damage, and cultivate healthier root systems. Construction is scheduled to be completed in time for spring planting season.

“Building frames around the raised garden beds will conserve our soils and create better accessibility for students,” said WSP gardening teacher and environmental educator Valerie Leone. She also said she is excited to move into the development to enliven the garden for bees and other pollinators.

Leone will be attending a workshop at Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in Virginia to learn about “pedagogical tools for teaching about the bees and a workbook for bringing bees into the schools. Practical work with the bees is part of the workshop as well as guidance for pollinator planting and transforming the gardens and landscape.”

PPS Appoints Management Firm for Referendum Upgrades

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education at its February 26 meeting approved a contract to appoint the Piscataway-based firm Epic Management, Inc. (EPIC) as construction manager for the implementation of its $26.9 million approved school facilities referendum projects.

EPIC will work cooperatively with the architects and engineers in overseeing the projects, but will report directly to the district and BOE.

An evaluation committee comprised of the facilities committee and senior administrators recommended EPIC after interviewing four finalist firms for the construction management position.

EPIC will work with the district to provide cost estimates, assist with the bidding process, develop detailed construction plans and timetables, and work with architects and administrators to manage day-to-day construction at each of the school sites. EPIC will provide regular updates with photos that will be shared on the district website to keep the community informed as the projects move forward.

Job Fair for Diverse Educators

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) is one of 24 sponsors of a 2019 CJ Pride job fair for recruiting diverse educators, to be held at Hightstown High School on March 14, 4-7 p.m.

“Eagerly seeking diverse candidates across all grade levels and content areas,” the recruitment flier reads. Limited administrative opportunities are also available, and all New Jersey certified candidates or candidates in the process of completing a teacher education program will be eligible to interview with school representatives.

“Our school district serves students from many different backgrounds who will graduate into a world that is culturally rich and complex,” said PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane. “To be able to appreciate and navigate that world, all of our students need to learn from and engage with educators and role models from different races and backgrounds.

“Our staff, too, need to learn from and engage with colleagues who present different perspectives and identities. Diversity makes our schools better for all of us. Through initiatives like CJ Pride, our goal is to attract, develop, and retain outstanding educators who will inspire our young people and help our district achieve its mission of ensuring all our students have what they need to achieve at their highest level.”

Pre-registration for the job fair is recommended at

Princeton Charter and PDS Dominate at Chess Championships

With first place in the individual competition, Audrey Li led Princeton Charter School (PCS) to victory in the Primary Team (K-3) division of the New Jersey State Chess Championships at Brookdale Community College on February 24.

Co-champion with Li in the primary section was PDS’ Giovanni Juarez, both undefeated with 5-0 scores but Liu winning on tie-breaks. The PDS primary team finished in second place overall.

In the elementary team (4-6) competition, PCS finished second. Eric Wu of PDS won first place in the junior high section with 4.5 out of 5 possible points.

More than 280 young chess players from around New Jersey participated in the five-round tournament.