December 7, 2016

Princeton Charter School has applied to the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) to expand its enrollment by 76 students next year, a proposal that Princeton Public Schools (PPS) superintendent Steve Cochrane has claimed would drain funds from PPS and ”compromise the quality of our students’ education.” more

The successful Dual Language Immersion Program at Community Park School will be an ongoing initiative in the district, after last month’s unanimous affirmation by the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Started as a pilot initiative at the beginning of the 2015-16 year for sections in kindergarten and first grade, the program expanded to second grade, with 43 kindergarteners, 41 first graders, and 38 second graders. It is scheduled to include K-3 in 2017-18, K-4 in 2018-19, and K-5 with full implementation in 2019-20. more

EGYPTIAN EXPLORATIONS: Justin Mathews and Connie Escher team up to investigate the pharaohs of ancient Egypt and many other wonders of the ancient world with their sixth grade social studies students at John Witherspoon Middle School. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

Tim Charleston, K-8 social studies supervisor for the Princeton Public Schools, described Connie Escher and Justin Mathews, sixth grade ancient world cultures teachers: “As a team they complement each other phenomenally. They both have significant individual strengths. They’re at the top of their game professionally. They take pride and pleasure in providing learning experiences for their students. They approach social studies in a hands-on way, and they care deeply about their students and about history.” more

November 30, 2016

Speculation about the impact of a Trump presidency on international politics continues with seven weeks to go before the president-elect actually takes office. A panel of Princeton University historians, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists gathered in Aaron Burr Hall Monday under the auspices of Princeton’s Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) to discuss how the rest of the world views Mr. Trump and what might be the consequences of a Trump presidency in various parts of the world.  more


QUAKER ROOTS: Built in 1781, the Princeton schoolmaster’s house, one of only two surviving Quaker schoolmaster houses in New Jersey and the only one still in use by a school, will be renovated over the next year to serve as a welcoming “front door” to Princeton Friends School and the Princeton Quaker Meeting property. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Friends School)

During the coming year, the 1781 Schoolmaster’s House and the adjacent 19th-century barn will be renovated to serve as a welcoming “front door” to Princeton Friends School (PFS) and the historic Quaker Meeting property on Quaker Road. Erected as a residence and classroom building, the House is today one of only two surviving Quaker schoolmaster houses in New Jersey and the only one still in use by a school.  more


Sustainable Princeton (SP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect the environment and make Princeton a more sustainable place, has chosen Molly Jones as its next executive director. Ms. Jones, who brings to the job experience from volunteer and professional roles at a number of local non-profit groups, understands the organization’s accomplishments in the realms of energy conservation and waste reduction and the challenges to further engage the community in changing habits to change the world.  more

November 23, 2016

Two separate fires on Sunday caused extensive damage to three shops on Witherspoon and Spring Streets and an office building at 601 Ewing Street. There were no injuries reported, according to Princeton Police Lieutenant Chris Morgan.

Fire departments from Princeton and eight surrounding communities responded to a two-alarm fire at 12:57 p.m. on Sunday at the Village Silver Shop, More Cafe, and Sakura Express in downtown Princeton. Witherspoon Street was closed for about two hours.  more

In response to the recent election and its aftermath, with fear and uncertainties that prompted a demonstration by hundreds of University community members last Thursday, Princeton faculty members and key administrators have issued separate statements of support for students’ rights and diversity, and against racism and discrimination.  more

The three Princeton professors conducting Monday’s panel discussion before a packed house at the Woodrow Wilson School’s Dodds Auditorium found themselves facing a different, far more difficult challenge than the one they had originally prepared for. The future under Donald Trump’s administration is full of uncertainty and extremes of possibilities, they agreed, and each ventured their “best guesses” as to what might happen. more

November 16, 2016

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat struck simultaneously for local Democrats last week. Eighty-three percent of Princeton votes went to Hillary Clinton, Liz Lempert won more than 70 percent of the ballots in the mayoral race, and two Democratic candidates were unopposed in their bid for town council seats. But the surprising Trump victory in the national election seemed to set the mood at Democratic Party Headquarters at 138 Nassau Street. more


“AN AMAZING LEADER:” Maria Juega retired last month as executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a group, now based in Trenton, that she co-founded in Princeton 12 years ago. During these troubled times, she urges patience and faith in “a country that believes in and defends human rights.”

Expressing both concern and hope, Maria Juega, co-founder and recently retired executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), reflected on the current political climate and the challenges for immigrant communities in Trenton and Princeton. more

In response to widespread post-election concerns, confusion and fear — both locally and globally — Princeton Public Schools (PPS) sent out a letter to families on Monday, ”affirming the values of our school district.”

“While none of us yet know how the politics and policies of our country will change,” stated the missive from superintendent Steve Cochrane, board president Andrea Spalla, and board vice-president Patrick Sullivan, “we stand together to assure our students and our community that our beliefs and goals — grounded in the principles of our democracy — will remain constant for the Princeton Public Schools.” more

November 9, 2016


Liz Lempert

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert was elected to a second four-year term in Tuesday’s race over Republican challenger Peter Marks. Ms. Lempert, a Democrat, earned 7529 votes, while Mr. Marks got 2709, according to unofficial results at press time.

In addition, voters elected Democratic Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller and newcomer Tim Quinn, also a Democrat, to two Council seats. Ms. Crumiller and Mr. Quinn, who were unopposed, will serve three-year terms. more

As the dust clears from bitterly contested U.S. elections, prominent Middle East scholars and policy experts will gather Thursday at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) to discuss what the election results mean for the Israeli-Palestine peace process.

Guest speakers at the 7 p.m. forum in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall will include Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and Khalil Shikaki, political science professor and director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, Palestine. more

Amidst widespread calls for changes to Princeton’s current zoning regulations, the Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative  (NC&ZI) Task Force has been hearing from different elements of the community as it prepares recommendations for both short-term and longer-term fixes.

In commenting on plans for introducing a proposal for preliminary ordinances to the municipal council on November 14, task force member and Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert noted the importance of both immediate action and longer-term work on zoning regulations. more

What’s going on inside the “black box” of pre-K education? High quality pre-K programs seem to play an important role in improving later outcomes, particularly for children from more disadvantaged families, but what produces such wide variations in impact? What’s the best way to train teachers to be effective in these programs? And what are the key components of a high-quality program?

Last month Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) and the Brookings Institution, a research and policy organization based in Washington, D.C., examined the effectiveness of pre-K education in the fall issue of the journal The Future of Children.  more


BIRTHDAY SURPRISES: (L to R) Matt (Grant Shaud), Jill (June Ballinger), Carol (Leslie Ayvazian), and Dan (Ken Land) leave the city for a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast in the Poconos to celebrate Carol’s 60th birthday, and they find themselves in unexpected, unsettling emotional territory in Passage Theatre’s production of Leslie Ayvazian’s “Out of the City,” playing through November 20 at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton. (Photo by Michael Goldstein)

At least since A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s “out-of-the-city” play set in ancient Athens and the surrounding forest, leaving the structured, rule-bound urban world for a sojourn in the unconstrained world of nature has been a risky proposition, bringing about all sorts of romantic upheavals, shifting relationships, and surprising transformations of identity. more

November 2, 2016

250px-princeton_battlefield_state_park_princeton_njThe Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS), with a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) and guidance from archeologist Wade Catts and historian Bob Selig, is preparing to launch an extensive investigation of property that may contain a mass grave, located on the north side of Mercer Road behind the iconic colonnade.

According to the PBS, an earlier ABPP grant, for which Mr. Catts and Mr. Selig were also consultants, led to the discovery of considerable new information and the realization that the D’Ambrisi property, which is not located in the Battlefield Historic District, actually played a significant role in the Battle of Princeton.

The PBS, along with Green Acres, the Municipality of Princeton, Friends of Princeton Open Space, and the Civil War Trust, arranged to purchase property from the D’Ambrisi family almost two years ago, and is currently in the process of purchasing additional property nearby. The current ABPP grant, according to PBS vice president Kip Cherry, calls for “a robust archeological investigation, detailed historical research using original documents and careful interpretation, GIS mapping, laboratory work on artifacts that may be found,” and preparation of a final report that may lead to applications for annexing the site to national and local historic districts. more

As Princeton University recently recast its motto from “in the nation’s service” to “in the nation’s service and the service of humanity,” Sustainability Office Founding Director Shana Weber noted that the University’s “focus on the ethos of service aligns perfectly with the objective of sustainability. It’s all part of the same desire for healthy systems for people and planets.” more


“WHERE HOPE LIVES:” Good Grief, a childhood bereavement organization, has recently purchased this Mapleton Road building as its Princeton headquarters. The nonprofit, in expansion mode with a $2 million capital campaign underway, provides free programs to hundreds of grieving children and families.

Looking to ensure a permanent presence in Princeton, Good Grief, which provides free programs to hundreds of children after the death of a family member, has purchased a home for its expanding operations at 5 Mapleton Road.  more

October 27, 2016


William G. Bowen, who died last Thursday at his home in Princeton at the age of 83, not only shaped Princeton University, where he served as an economics professor, provost, then president for 15 years, but also the world of U.S. higher education, which he wrote about and influenced significantly throughout his long, productive career.

Mr. Bowen was Princeton University’s 17th president during an often tumultuous period from 1972 to 1988, overseeing the first admission of women and major expansions in academics. From Princeton he moved to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where he served as president from 1988 to 2006, leading its support for the humanities, undergraduate and graduate education, the arts, and culture.  more


HOSPITALITY TO HOSTILITY: (L to R) Amir (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh), Emily (Caroline Kaplan), Isaac (Kevin Isola), and Jory (Austene Van) enjoy a cordial dinner before resentments surface and the mood turns dark in McCarter Theatre’s production of Ayad Akhtar’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Disgraced,” at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre through October 30. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

If Ayad Akhtar’s characters had followed my grandmother’s warning, “We never discuss politics or religion at social occasions,” his 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Disgraced would never have been written.

Now playing in a riveting production at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre, the 90-minute uninterrupted, four-scene exploration of identity, Islam, and what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America, as seen through the interwoven lives of five New York City characters, was the most often produced play in the United States in the 2015-16 season.  more

October 26, 2016

In working to first assess then improve the health of the community, Princeton Future (PF) is creating a Princeton Health Corps as it embarks on a long-term project in collaboration with the Board of Health.

At an opening public gathering in the Library Community Room on Saturday morning, participants discussed: “How does the Princeton community’s lifestyle impact the health of its citizens?” With a focus on dietary habits and physical activity, Princeton Future set forth its plan to help “collect, manage, analyze, and disseminate health-related data for decisions about all of us: the residents, the students and the employees of our community.”  more


KEEPING PRINCETON HEALTHY: Jeff Grosser, Princeton Health Officer, is always on the go in his “constantly evolving job” of overseeing the Municipal Health Department.

Jeff Grosser, 32-year-old New Jersey native, came to head the Princeton Health Department in April 2014. He lives in Burlington County with his wife and three daughters, ages five, three and eight months. In his scarce free time, he loves going to the beach and surfing on Long Beach Island (LBI, where his parents live), playing soccer and coaching his daughters. He almost chose a career in professional soccer over public health. more

October 19, 2016

The Princeton Public Schools Student Services team laid out their plans for the coming year for a group of about 50 in the John Witherspoon School Academic Conference Center (ACC) on Monday night in a forum sponsored by the Special Education PTO.

In setting the tone for the evening, special ed PTO co-chair Joan Spindel emphasized the value of communication, “learning from each other’s stories” and providing feedback to”help shape the agenda of the Student Services team.”  more