Newark announces new principals for elementary, high schools. Is your school’s leader changing?

Ten pictures of people on a green and blue background.
Ten Newark schools are welcoming new principals for this 2023-24 school year. (Newark Public Schools)

More than half of the 10 new principals for the upcoming school year in Newark Public Schools are women of color, and most of them have worked their way up through the ranks in the district’s schools.  

Eight of the new principals are at elementary schools and two will work at high schools. Combined, the new principals bring decades of experience. Some are first-time principals, and others are veteran educators and administrators in the district.

Other leadership changes include four new vice principals at four elementary schools and three teacher coaches at three elementary schools.

Candidates for principal roles “undergo a lengthy process and are recommended by the Superintendent to the Newark Board of Education,” according to Nancy Deering, the district’s acting communications director. 

They must complete an application for the position, and interview with multiple departments and staff members before a final interview with Superintendent Roger León, Deering added. 

This year’s reorganization of leaders follows previous efforts to create teacher-to-leader pipelines and elevate people of color into principal and vice principal positions. Eight of the 10 principal promotions are for women of color, while two are for men, including a Black man. 

After last school year’s ousting of two first-year principals and this year’s demotion of Avon Avenue Elementary School’s first-year principal to a teacher, Newark Public Schools’ ability to support new school leaders is under scrutiny.

The new leaders must also work to create inclusive spaces, as they work in a district where Latino and Black students make up more than 90% of the student body. 

Last fall, parents at the Newark School of Global Studies called for the removal of principal Nelson Ruiz after students, staff, and parents grew frustrated with the way Ruiz responded to complaints of racial harassment from Black students and staff at the school. Ruiz remains in his role this year. 

The district will continue to make appointments and announcements about new hires as needed, Deering added. 

Here’s a list of leadership changes taking effect for the 2023-24 school year:

New teacher coaches at three elementary schools

Aleiyah Richardson, a former academic interventionist, was promoted to a teacher coach at Speedway Elementary School with a salary of $66,000 as of July 1. 

Gina Lee, a former academic interventionist, was promoted to a teacher coach at Elliot Street Elementary School with a salary of $107,050 as of July 1. 

Michelle Lambeth, a former math teacher, was promoted to a teacher coach at McKinley Elementary School with a salary of $64,000 as of July 1. 

Four new vice principals take over

Camille Reid, a former teacher coach, was promoted to vice principal of Thirteenth Avenue School with a salary of $103,700 as of July 1. 

Germaine Jenkins, a former teacher coach, was promoted to vice principal of McKinley Elementary School with a salary of $103,700 as of July 1. 

Jessica Columbo Pereria, a former academic interventionist, was promoted to vice principal of Ironbound Academy Elementary School with a salary of $103,700 as of July 1. 

Terrence Daniel, a former elementary school teacher, was promoted to vice principal of Mount Vernon Elementary School with a salary of $103,700 as of July 1. 

10 new principals lead Newark schools

At the high school level, Dr. David Cutts, a former English teacher at Bard High School, will replace the school’s former principal, Carla Stephens, who led the school since 2017. An English native from South Yorkshire, Cutts joined the district in 2012 after working as a professor at Southampton College on Long Island, which has since closed, and Princeton University’s English Department. 

Natasha Pared, formerly a principal at Rafael Hernandez Elementary School, will replace Jose Aviles, who led Barringer High School since 2019. 

At the elementary school level, Ryan Silver will be the first principal for the new Nelson Mandela Elementary School opening in the fall. The school, located at the former University Heights Charter School, will be led by Silver, a district alum and Newark native. The new school is enrolling students in pre-K-4, and is part of the district’s broader plan to open more schools and expand others. 

Isabel Marques is the new principal at Ann Street Elementary School. Marques was previously a vice principal at the pre-K-8 school, where she focused on math, science, and middle schoolers. She is an educator with 22 years of experience, 20 of which have been in the district. She was promoted with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. 

Kinyetta Bird was promoted to principal of Avon Avenue with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. She is a former vice principal in the district and has eight years of experience working in Newark Public Schools, according to her LinkedIn profile. She will replace former first-year principal Krishna Dalal Barroso, who was promoted as Avon’s principal last year and will be a teacher at Belmont Runyon Elementary School starting this fall. 

Marvelis Perreira is the new principal at Dr. William H. Horton Elementary School, one of the most densely populated schools in the city’s North Ward. She replaces former principal, Hamlet Marte, who led the school since 2019. She brings over 20 years of expertise in instructional leadership and experience as a Newark principal and vice principal. She was promoted to principal of the school with a salary of $141,700 starting July 1.

Newark native Diane Pereira was promoted to principal of Lafayette Street Elementary School with a salary of $134,100 starting July 1. She is the former vice principal at the school and brings 25 years of experience as a bilingual teacher, a math teacher, and an administrator. She began her career at Lafayette Street as a student teacher in 1998.

Jessica Rios is the new principal at Rafael Hernández Elementary School and former vice principal at Early Childhood School North for four years where she mentored teachers and led professional development, according to her bio on the district’s website. Previously, she won Newark Public Schools Superintendent’s Educator Excellence Award.

Raised in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, Daniella Alvarez is the new principal at Salomé Ureña Elementary School and the former vice principal at Wilson Avenue School. Alvarez is also a graduate of Wilson Avenue and Science High School. Previously, she worked as a summer school lead principal overseeing 15 summer school sites.

A West Ward native, Thalia Brownridge-Smith is the new principal of Thirteenth Avenue School and former vice principal at Louise A. Spencer Elementary School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a double minor in African-American Studies and anthropology. She received her master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jessie Gómez is a reporter for Chalkbeat Newark, covering public education in the city. Contact Jessie at jgomez@chalkbeat.org.

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