Welcome To School Year 2021-2022
August 20, 2021
Dear Princeton Public Schools Families,
Welcome to the 2021-22 school year! I hope your summer has been filled with opportunities to radically practice various forms of self-care to relax and recharge!
The past two school years have been unprecedented for schools everywhere. This three-prong crisis (health, financial and social) has been overwhelming for families, students and staff. Yet, I am encouraged and optimistic about the school year ahead.
First, we have some of the most dedicated educators/parents/community supporters anywhere. Undoubtedly, it is the people who make Princeton Public Schools a top school district in our area. Secondly, we believe that while many of our students are high-achieving, targeted professional development for our educators and extended student support will helpall our children excel, and we are ready to deliver on that. Finally, we are prepared to foster a school culture that’s welcoming and affirming for all, which is even more critical during this time.
We are excited to welcome our more than 3,800 students back to Princeton Public Schools on Thursday, September 9, 2021. For the first time in over a year, our students will engage in full-day learning, five days a week in their respective school buildings.
I want to recognize and thank every staff member who has worked tirelessly this summer and even last Spring to develop our return-to-school and health and safety plans.
You have entrusted us with the educational care of your children; we do not take this for granted. Thus, please know our actions will be guided by these guiding principles:
- The health and safety of our students is our top priority.
- We are deeply committed to providing consistent, high-quality learning experiences for all students, inclusive of supporting their emotional well-being.
- We acknowledge equity as an imperative foundation of our work. (Read the school board’s commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion here.)
In terms of the health and safety of our students, we have a strong foundation to build on. Last school year, we had zero COVID cases transmitted in our schools. To date, we arefortunate that 77 percent of people (over age 12) in our Princeton community have been vaccinated. Through the safety protocols we have in place, we hope to maintain this record once we reopen school in September.
For more information regarding the health and safety mitigation strategies that will be in place, click here.
Again, I am excited to welcome our students and staff back in a few weeks and using a quote by author and humanitarian, Sonya Renee Taylor, to frame the changes and adjustments we’ve experienced during this challenging time:
We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction…
We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity.
Let’s make this school year our opportunity to stitch a new garment that fits our community and build on the best of PPS. Thank you for your continued partnership and support. I will be on the front lawn (weather permitting) of the administrative building at 25 Valley Road on September 2 from 9 AM to 10 AM and from 6 PM to 7 PM to meet all parents who would like to stop by and say hello.
Enjoy the remaining days of summer. I look forward to seeing you in September!
Dr. Carol L. Kelley
Superintendent of Schools
Entry Plan from Dr. Kelley
Please click here to read Dr. Kelly's entry plan.
Letter from the Superintent
I am excited to begin my tenure as the next superintendent of Princeton Public Schools! The district’s long legacy of academic excellence, deep commitment to helping all students find their own pathway to success, diverse student body, and core values of innovation in education are just a few of the reasons why this opportunity excites me.
As a mother of two sons, I know every parent or guardian wants their child(ren) to thrive and feel a sense of belonging in the schools they attend. We want our children to experience feelings of confidence and persistence when learning; we
want our children to feel known, nurtured and valued in their learning setting, no matter how young or old your child may be.
I believe every school can achieve this vision when it has the supportive conditions essential to manifest belonging for each child, such as instructional excellence; inclusive learning environments; and creating places of learning for everyone (adults and children) to succeed and thrive. I’m looking forward to partnering with you in the coming school years.
In my role as superintendent, I want to focus our efforts on these matters; alongside school and community members, I want our collective legacy to reflect that we provided steady guidance and leadership towards helping Princeton Public Schools achieve its mission of “preparing all of our students to lead lives of joy and purpose as knowledgeable, creative and compassionate citizens of a global society.”
I will be deeply committed to developing a long-standing, collaborative working relationship with the board, staff and community members in order to achieve three overarching goals as your new superintendent: improving student learning (for all); creating learning conditions where every learner (young and old) can thrive; and elevating educators. The golden thread weaving through each of these goals is my life purpose -- inspiring and advancing educational equity and excellence in our schools.
In my first 100 days as superintendent, my goal is to learn as much as I can about who we are today. I look forward to sitting with many of you and listening to your lived experiences in Princeton Public Schools, and hearing about our shining strengths, as well as our most pressing challenges. I aim to build trust and gain commitment from school and community members; develop a productive and collaborative work- ing relationship with the Board; learn more about what the historical and recent barriers to authentic collaboration have been so as to disrupt those patterns and create new ways of working together. Your voice matters, and I hope to hear from as many people as possible (including our students), and especial- ly those that are typically historically underrepresented.
I look forward to hearing your continued feedback, and I will expand and update this plan as we collaboratively work to create a positive learning environment that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole person for our community of learners.
Carta de Dr. Carol L. Kelley
¡Estoy muy emocionada de iniciar mi posición como la próxima superintendente de las Escuelas Públicas de Princeton! El largo legado de excelencia académica del distrito, el profundo compromiso de ayudar a todos los estudiantes a encontrar su propio camino hacia el éxito, el diverso cuerpo estudiantil y los valores fundamentales de innovación en la educación son tan solo algunas de las razones por las que estoy tan emocionada por esta oportunidad.
Como madre de dos hijos, sé que todos los padres o tutores quieren que sus hijos prosperen y tengan un sentido de pertenencia a las escuelas a las que asisten. Queremos que nuestros hijos experimenten sentimientos de confianza y perseverancia al aprender; queremos que nuestros niños se sientan reconocidos, nutridos y valorados en su entorno de aprendizaje, sin importar la edad de su hijo.
Creo que toda escuela puede lograr esta visión cuando tiene las condiciones de apoyo esenciales para mostrar la pertenencia de cada niño, ya sea a través de la excelencia educativa; los entornos de aprendizaje inclusivos; así como la creación de lugares de aprendizaje para que todos (adultos y niños) tengan éxito y prosperen. Espero poder trabajar junto con ustedes en los próximos años escolares.
En mi papel de superintendente, junto con los miembros de la escuela y la comunidad, quiero centrar nuestros esfuerzos para que nuestro legado colectivo refleje que brindamos una guía y un liderazgo constante para ayudar a las Escuelas Públicas de Princeton a lograr su misión de “preparar a todos nuestros estudiantes para llevar una vida de alegría y propósito como ciudadanos informados, creativos y compasivos de una sociedad global ”.
Como su nueva superintendente, estaré profundamente comprometida con el desarrollo de una relación de trabajo colaborativa y duradera con la junta, el personal y los miembros de la comunidad a fin de lograr tres metas generales: mejorar el aprendizaje de los estudiantes (para todos); crear condiciones de aprendizaje en las que todos los alumnos (jóvenes y mayores) puedan prosperar; y elevar a los educadores. El hilo dorado que se entreteje a través de cada uno de estos objetivos es el propósito de mi vida: inspirar y promover la equidad y la excelencia educativa en nuestras escuelas.
En mis primeros 100 días como superintendente, mi objetivo es aprender todo lo que pueda sobre quiénes somos hoy. Espero sentarme con muchos de ustedes y escuchar sus experiencias vividas en las Escuelas Públicas de Princeton, escuchar acerca de nuestras brillantes fortalezas, así como de nuestros desafíos más urgentes. Mi objetivo es generar confianza y ganar el compromiso de la escuela y los miembros de la comunidad; desarrollar una relación de trabajo productiva y colaborativa con la Junta; obtener más información sobre cuáles han sido las barreras históricas y recientes contra la colaboración auténtica para así romper estos patrones y crear nuevas formas de trabajar juntos. Su voz es importante y espero escuchar a tantas personas como sea posible (incluyendo nuestros estudiantes), y especialmente a aquellos que históricamente están sub-representados.
Espero poder escuchar sus comentarios, y ampliaré y actualizaré este plan mientras trabajamos en colaboración para crear un entorno de aprendizaje positivo que sea equitativo, inclusivo y centrado completamente en la persona para el beneficio de nuestra comunidad de estudiantes.
Un cordial saludo,
Video Message from Dr. Kelley
Our incoming superintendent, Dr. Carol Kelly, is looking forward to returning to her home state of New Jersey in late June. She will officially begin as Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools on July 1. In the meantime, she would like to share this video.
DR. CAROL L. KELLEY NAMED SUPERINTENDENT
OF THE PRINCETON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Following a comprehensive nationwide search, Dr. Carol Kelley has been selected as the next Superintendent of Schools for the Princeton Public Schools. Dr. Kelley will assume her role as Superintendent on July 1, 2021.
Dr. Kelley has completed 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.
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 coteaching 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 in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, Dr. Kelley said she is thrilled to be returning “home.”
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 served as the district as Interim Superintendent from July 1, 2020 through June 2021.