November 15, 2023

Kathie Foster Named Acting Superintendent For Princeton Public Schools

By Donald Gilpin

Kathie Foster (Princeton Public Schools)

Kathie Foster has been appointed acting superintendent of the Princeton Public Schools beginning November 14, during the leave of absence of Superintendent Carol Kelley, whose resignation goes into effect August 31, 2024.

Foster, who served as interim principal at Princeton High School (PHS) from March through September this year and as the district’s interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction from December 2021 through June 2022, was officially appointed acting superintendent by a 9-0 vote of the Board of Education at a special meeting lasting less than 10 minutes on Monday, November 13. She will be paid a per diem rate of $1,100.

“We know Kathie to be a kind leader, a creative problem-solver, and an effective communicator,” the BOE wrote in a November 8 email to the PPS community. “We are confident that Kathie will keep the best interests of all students at the forefront, and that she will provide experienced and steady leadership to all administrators and staff.”

Foster, who served as superintendent of schools in Robbinsville from 2016 until her retirement in 2020, stepped in as PHS interim principal in March just before spring break, following the sudden dismissal of Frank Chmiel.

Cecilia Birge, who was PHS assistant principal when Foster served there and is now PHS principal, praised Foster in an April 2023 article published in The Tower, the PHS student newspaper. “I think her transition has been seamless,” said Birge, as quoted in The Tower. “Schools are not run by the individual — [they’re] run by a team. And we’re very lucky that we have a really good team. She’s so mindful of Princeton culture — academically, athletically, artistically, and politically.”

Birge continued, “Dr. Foster is no stranger; she was in the district last year. Students probably did not get a chance to work with her or meet her frequently, but we administrators are very familiar with her. Her leadership is student-centered and kindness-focused. She brings a lot of mindfulness and wants to meet the students, so it’s been really great.”

The Tower article, titled “Kathie Foster’s short time at PHS focuses on student well-being,” goes on to note that in her role as interim PHS principal Foster emphasized mental health and maintaining a balance between academic stress and personal time to regroup.

In the article Foster described herself as “a passionate supporter of public education.” She stated, “It’s about activating your voice, you know, empowering students, creating student leaders to go out in the world and contribute.”

Foster holds a bachelor of arts degree from Hope College in Michigan, a master of arts in educational leadership from Rider University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She was an eighth grade math teacher for 17 years at the start of her career before moving into administrative roles in Robbinsville as Pond Road Middle School principal, assistant superintendent, then superintendent.