April 29, 2020

PPS Assistant Superintendent Annie Kosek Will Retire in June; 17 Years in the District

WINNING TEAM: Superintendent Steve Cochrane and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Gonzalez Kosek have led the Princeton Public Schools over the past few years. Both will be stepping down at the end of June. Kosek, described by Cochrane as “one of the most outstanding educators with whom I have ever worked,” announced her retirement last week after 17 years at PPS. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

Anna Gonzalez Kosek, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, praised by PPS Board of Education President Beth Behrend for “her intellect, her professionalism, her warmth, and ability to work well with teachers and staff,” announced last week that she will be stepping down at the end of June.

In addition to a new assistant superintendent, the PPS is looking for an interim superintendent to take charge on July 1, replacing Superintendent Steve Cochrane, who in February announced his upcoming retirement. Kosek said that her retirement plans have been in place since last August and were not affected by COVID-19 or by Cochrane’s retirement.

Kosek will be retiring after what she described as a “long and rewarding” 41-year career in education, including 14 years as principal of Littlebrook School before moving to PPS central administration in 2017.

“I’ve always loved a good challenge,” Kosek wrote in a letter to the PPS staff. “I have loved every minute of the past 17 years as both principal of Littlebrook School and as assistant superintendent, and because of that I do hope to work in public or higher education in some capacity.”

Kosek recalled some of her fondest memories in Princeton from her years as principal at Littlebrook, which was selected as a Blue Ribbon School under her leadership. “I think the things I miss most from those years,” she wrote in an email, “are the birthday lunches with students (how well I got to know them!), the school morning meetings when the whole school community came together in friendship and celebration (I loved the annual Service Learning Celebration), and listening to students read or share their projects with me with such excitement and wide-eyed wonder. Yes, I’ll miss those small important things the most.”

Cochrane, who worked with Kosek in the Hopewell Valley school district where she started out as an elementary school teacher, then a K-12 staff developer and a K-8 supervisor of language arts before she came to PPS in 2003, described Kosek as “one of the most outstanding educators with whom I have ever worked.”

He continued, in a message to the PPS community, “She is a force. Annie is motivated by two passions. She rejoices, first and foremost, in her relationships with students, staff, and families. She also relishes the challenge of changing cultures, programs, and systems. Her efforts are always driven by doing what is right for kids. And her efforts are always collaborative. She listens, and then she leads.”

Cochrane noted Kosek’s leadership in the implementation of remote learning for the entire district during the current pandemic; her overseeing of a program review process for all subjects; her work in updating the curriculum, now available in an electronic database; her implementation of a new school-wide enrichment program; revision of the elementary school report card; and implementation of a summer academy for professional development by teachers for teachers.

Cochrane emphasized Kosek’s role in providing professional development related to equity, with a focus on culturally responsive teaching and differentiated instruction. “Bottom line: All of our children have been impacted by her work — and will continue to be,” Cochrane wrote.

Asked what she might advise the new leaders of the PPS who will be taking over on July 1, Kosek responded, “You’re in this together — with an extraordinary Board of Education, remarkable educators and support staff, and an involved community. While very challenging, our current situation is supported by a solid foundation, clear and articulated values, and, through Superintendent Cochrane’s visionary leadership, a shared mission to prepare students for joyful, purposeful, and compassionate lives.”

She continued, “Rely on all of that in decision-making, but also recognize the many silver linings in the form of opportunities for learning and possibilities for growth that this experience has brought.”