September 16, 2020

School Matters 9/16/2020

Child Care Scholarships and Internet Access for PPS Students

Approximately 200 Princeton families will receive unlimited wireless data in their homes for the school year, under an agreement between Princeton Public Schools (PPS) and two internet providers, Comcast and T-Mobile.  The companies are offering discounted service for qualifying families, and PPS will cover this cost with funds from a grant from an anonymous donor.

The district has also received a grant to provide child care in partnership with the Princeton YMCA during the current remote learning period and beyond. The YMCA is providing safe, monitored child care for students at the Pannell Center and the Crimmins Center for approximately 40 qualifying students, which began on September 14.

Advisory Committee to Help Name Middle School

An advisory committee of ten school officials and community members will hold its first meeting on September 21 to plan the initial steps in suggesting new names for the Princeton Unified Middle School (PUMS), formerly John Witherspoon Middle School.

As the naming process continues, the committee will be seeking input from school staff and students and the community.

The committee so far includes Debbie Bronfeld and Betsy Baglio, from the PPS Board of Education; Shirley Satterfield, local historian; Geoffrey Allen, Princeton High School graduate and author of the original petition to remove the name of Witherspoon; Jason Burr, PUMS principal; Jen Bigioni, Princeton High School teacher and librarian; Stephanie Tidwell, PPS mathematics supervisor; Cecilia Birge, PHS assistant principal; Angela Siso Stentz, Johnson Park principal; and Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso.

The BOE decided on August 11 to change the name of the middle school, removing the name of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the sixth president of Princeton University but also a slave owner who opposed abolition. The BOE set a deadline of June 20, 2021 to decide on a new name, with Princeton Unified Middle School to be the school’s name in the meantime.

New Teachers and Staff at Pennington School

The Pennington School has welcomed three new administrators and six new teachers to its staff for the 2020-21 school year.

Stephanie Balazsi, formerly the administrative assistant to the head of Upper School at Princeton Day School, will be the new executive assistant to the Head of School at Pennington. Jennifer Helmrich, with 22 years of pediatric nursing experience, joins the Health Center as director of health services.  Camille Osborne, formerly administrative coordinator of teacher education at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education, is the new administrative assistant to the dean of faculty and the dean of academic affairs.

New faculty include Julia Barrett, who will be teaching middle school history; Tiernan Close, who is returning to teach history at Pennington School, where she worked as a religion and history teacher from 1998 to 2007; Delonte Egwuatu, who has taught at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Maryland for the past there years, will be teaching Spanish; Anna Leader, who has written several award-winning novels, poems, and plays, will be teaching English and French; Dawn Nelson, who taught at McGuire Air Force Base for several years, is teaching compensatory skills in the Cervone Center for Learning; and Shawn Nicosia, who has taught at Lawrence Middle School, is returning to Pennington, where she worked from 1994 to 2002, to teach in the Cervone Center for Learning.