May 6, 2020

School Matters 5/6/2020

Cochrane Named Superintendent of the Year

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Steve Cochrane has been recognized as the Mercer County Superintendent of the Year by the Mercer County Association of School Administrators.

Emphasizing an approach to learning that is founded in joy and purpose, Cochrane has championed the idea that diversity is strength. He has emphasized issues of educational inequity in the district, particularly racial disparities, and has focused on student wellness and mental health. He oversaw the passage in December 2018 of a much-debated facilities referendum.

Cochrane, who is retiring from his position at the end of the school year, earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Princeton University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. His career in education has included positions as an elementary school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, and an assistant dean at Princeton University.

Stony Brook Garden Club Environmental Award

Catherine McDonnell, a student at Princeton High School, and Saniya Patel, from the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, have been selected to share the Elly and Giorgio Petronio Scholarship-Stony Brook Garden Club Environmental Award 2020 with its $1,000 first-place prize.

McDonnell, a Cranbury resident, was honored for her scientific research in examining the effect of microplastics on marine ecosystems. Patel, from Plainsboro, was acclaimed for her involvement in environmental advocacy as organizer of climate action initiatives.

Hun Students Create Remote Tutoring Program

With remote learning replacing the school classroom during the current crisis, Hun School juniors Elizabeth Ji and Devon Pasieka have created Study Engine, a free virtual peer tutoring program designed to provide individualized help for elementary and middle school students.

Ji and Pasieka have developed an application system to pair up young student applicants and their parents with volunteer Hun School student tutors. A video call between the parent and the Hun student volunteer takes place in order to convey additional information and answer questions on both sides. Tutoring sessions then take place via video chat one to three times per week for 30-45 minutes each.

The response from Hun School families and beyond has grown steadily over the past three weeks since the program’s inception. “Now we are seeing Hun families asking to send Study Engine to their friends who are outside of the local community because they want to get involved,” said Pasieka.

For more information or an application, email