Princeton Public Schools Welcome New Spaces and Faces in Fall Term
By Donald Gilpin
As students and teachers return to school for the start of the fall term next month, there will be a new supervisor of elementary education in a new budget-neutral position, a number of administrators in new roles, and new classroom and collaborative learning areas — built with funds from the 2018 referendum — just completed at Princeton High School (PHS).
Board of Education President Dafna Kendal described some of the advantages of the four classrooms and the collaborative learning space, which is on schedule to welcome students in the fall as soon as furniture shipments arrive. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “Everything is on target and the design is timeless, with a lot of light. My favorite part is the windows. There’s so much light in the rooms, and I think that’s important.”
The collaborative space is a response to requests from teachers and students for more gathering places. “This will enable large groups to get together, whether it’s to work on a project or hold a discussion or listen to a speaker,” said Kendal. “And we didn’t have to add to the footprint of the high school. We just built this over the gym. It’s a new space, but it’s cost effective in how we added those rooms.”
The new space, with a capacity of 100 to 120 students, is likely to serve a variety of purposes for many different parts of the PHS community. “They’re calling it a dance studio, but it’s also going to be used for yoga and meditation and things like that,” said Kendal. “Another thing that came out is that we need more space for athletic teams to practice and get together.”
The new construction provides versatile flooring and space, Kendal said, to accommodate dance, a practice area for the fencing team, and a wellness studio. With renovation funds from the referendum PHS was able to complete other projects last year, including the Tiger Cafe and the revamping and expansion of the guidance area.
Kendal emphasized the importance of improvements that will address social-emotional needs at PHS. She added that, elsewhere in the district, the completion of the new roof at Littlebrook Elementary School will soon be a welcome accomplishment.
New Elementary Supervisor
Taking on the new role as supervisor of elementary education will be Sarah Moore, who will coordinate curriculum, instruction, and professional development at the four elementary schools.
Moore comes to Princeton Public Schools (PPS) from the Robbinsville school district, where she was curriculum and instruction supervisor specializing in literacy and intervention. She has also worked as an educational supervisor and teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing.
Moore holds two master’s degrees in education from The College of New Jersey with areas of expertise in multi-tiered systems of support, English language arts, reading, special education, and teacher professional development.
She has worked with the New Jersey Consortium on Deaf-Blindness and has served as a National Helen Keller Fellow. She has written numerous journal articles on literacy, and her first book, Dyslexia has Dyslexia, is scheduled for release next year.
Also coming to Princeton from the Robbinsville district, Kimberly Tew took over as PPS assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction on June 1. Former PHS chemistry and racial literacy educator Joy Barnes-Johnson recently assumed the role of 6-12 science supervisor; Keisha Smith-Carrington, former K-6 humanities supervisor is taking over as 6-12 humanities supervisor; and Stephenie Tidwell will continue as math and business education supervisor with emphasis on grades 6-12.
PPS Superintendent Carol Kelley emphasized the significance of restructuring “to further the highest level of performance with our students” while “finding the most efficient way to use the resources we have.” She praised Moore, who will be joining the administrative team in the new position later this month.
“The district will continue to provide the support to our staff and students at the elementary level, but the support will be more targeted to elementary students’ needs with more hands-on support and more collaboration, with supervisors as well as with building principals,” Kelley said.
She continued, “One of our primary aims is to bring online more support to our students, not just those who need additional support to get up to grade level, but also to those students who have already reached grade level and need further enrichment.”
Kelley reflected on some of her priorities for the 2022-23 school year. “Looking ahead, my personal goal is to get to know the community as well as I can, to be visible in our schools with our staff and students,” she said. “We will be focusing this upcoming school year not just on the academics, but also on providing any of the emotional support that our students or staff might need.
“Our focus will be on student engagement and making sure that every student is known and valued, as well as making sure that they’re reaching their full potential academically. We’re looking forward to working with everyone to make sure we are fulfilling the dreams and promises of our town. There’s no place better than Princeton because of the amount of support and the resources here.”