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Following a comprehensive nationwide search, the Princeton Board of Education is pleased to announce that Dr. Carol Kelley has been selected as the next Superintendent of Schools for the Princeton Public Schools.

Dr. Kelley’s appointment was unanimously approved by the Princeton Board of Education at a public meeting on February 18. Dr. Kelley will assume her role as Superintendent on July 1, 2021.

Dr. Kelley is completing her sixth year as the Superintendent of Schools of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97, a preK-8 public school district located just outside of Chicago, Illinois. There, she has earned praise for advancing academic excellence and equity for all students, promoting evidence-based teaching practices, and developing measures of effectiveness.

“We are delighted to have identified such a talented and accomplished educator to lead the Princeton public schools at this crucial time,” said Board of Education President Beth Behrend. “We remain committed to the pursuit of equity and academic excellence in an environment that supports the success of all of our students, preparing them for lives of joy and purpose. Dr. Kelley shares our vision and values; her passion, intellect and experience will help us deliver on this commitment, benefitting our students for years to come.”

Immediately preceding her current role, Dr. Kelley served as Superintendent of Schools in Branchburg Township, New Jersey, from 2012 to 2015. Dr. Kelley’s 27 years of service as an educator includes several other positions in New Jersey public schools, including Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Hunterdon Central Regional High School District in Flemington, Principal of Milltown Elementary School in Bridgewater, K-12 supervisor of mathematics in the Franklin Township Public Schools, assistant principal of Franklin Park Elementary School and Sampson G. Smith Middle School in Franklin Township, and teacher at the Smith Middle School.

Photo of Dr. Carol Kelley


An engineer by training, Dr. Kelley earned a B.S.E. in systems science engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia. She began her career working on cell phones and smart card technology for Bell Atlantic and then developing marketing strategy and packaging in the advanced care product division at Johnson & Johnson.She began teaching in 1994, she said, because of her belief in the power of public education to improve the lives of all students. She earned an Ed.D. in Organizational and Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.

“I am honored to join PPS as your new superintendent,” said Dr. Kelley. “The district’s long legacy of academic excellence, deep commitment to helping all students find their own pathways to success, diverse student body, and core values of innovation in education are just a few of the reasons why this opportunity excites me. Also, the ability to move back to Central New Jersey to be near my family, friends, and colleagues feels like a dream come true. I am looking forward to meeting and partnering with the students, staff and families. Together, we will carry forward Princeton Public Schools’ vision.”

At Oak Park, Dr. Kelley developed the community engagement strategy that yielded a vision statement and five-year strategic plan for the district. She reorganized administration to promote the effectiveness of school principals in building safe, equitable, and successful learning environments and created new positions to support achievement, equity and inclusion for all students.

She drove the implementation of standardized math and literacy curricula in the early grades and increased the percentage of students projected college ready in mathematics by 11 percent.She promoted the use of research in decisions about curriculum and teaching materials. She expanded the co-teaching model in the elementary schools to integrate special education students and redesigned the gifted program to advance equity. She established an instructional coach role to enable teachers to leverage and improve the instructional core.

Also at Oak Park, Dr. Kelley passed a comprehensive racial and educational equity policy and developed programs to help eliminate opportunity gaps. She partnered with the National Equity Project to support a district Equity Design Team that works to improve the school experiences of African American students. She increased the percentage of new teacher hires of color by 37% (from 27% in SY17 to 37% in SY19).

Among her professional affiliations, Dr. Kelley has served as a member of the Executive Board of the Minority Student Achievement Network, as well as the National Equity Project’s Midwest Network. She is a fellow of the Racial Equity Leadership Network of the Southern Education Foundation. She is an active member of AASA: The School Superintendents Association, having participated in its National Superintendent Certification Program and National Principals’ Supervisor Cohort.

Having raised her sons, Jordan and Austin, in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, Dr. Kelley said she is thrilled to be returning “home.”

There will be virtual opportunities for parents, staff, students, and community members to meet with Dr. Kelley in coming months. Dr. Kelley will continue to serve as Superintendent of Schools of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 until the end of the school year.

The Princeton Board of Education began its search last summer for a permanent superintendent. A search firm was engaged to recruit competitive candidates from a national pool. Members of the board conducted extensive interviews with 13 candidates. Semifinalists were asked to respond to a writing prompt, and finalists made substantive presentations based on data from the district.

Dr. Barry Galasso has served the district as Interim Superintendent since July 1, 2020.

"We have an excellent interim superintendent who is very much engaged and focused on moving things forward for our students through June 30," said Ms. Behrend. 


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