Nancy Whalen takes the reins of Riverside; Barnes-Johnson heads the science department at PPS.

By Donald Gilpin

Nancy Whalen

Two educators have recently stepped into key leadership roles at Princeton Public Schools (PPS). Nancy Whalen, a former principal and guidance counselor in Hamilton Township, will be the acting principal of Riverside Elementary School for the 2022-23 school year, and Joy Barnes-Johnson, a secondary school science teacher Princeton and racial literacy educator, will be the supervisor. of science from grades 6 to 12.

Whalen succeeds Ebony Lattimer, who served as vice-principal at Princeton Middle School, and Barnes-Johnson – subject to early Board of Education approval at last night’s July 26 meeting, which took place after time to press – supports the work scientific supervisor of Mridula Bajaj, who has moved to a similar position in another district.

In announcing Whalen’s appointment, SPP Superintendent Carol Kelley praised her extensive elementary school leadership experience, her counseling experience and her “passion for elementary education.”

“My main goal at the start of the year here is really to build community,” said Whalen, who has previously met with Riverside teachers and administrators. She has scheduled more meetings with members of the Riverside Parent-Teacher Organization in August, and in the fall she looks forward to visiting each classroom to read with the students.

“I plan to meet all the students and get to know their names, so they see me and get to know who I am,” she added. “It is important.”

Along with “opening up lines of communication, reaching out and getting to know everyone,” working closely with faculty is a priority for Whalen. “There’s always room for everyone to grow, so I’ll try to take advantage of that,” she said. “It will be a collaborative effort with teachers, families and myself to see where we need to grow.”

She went on to highlight her support for Riverside’s equity and inclusion goals, making sure all children and families feel included, as well as making learning a joyful process. “It’s important for kids, making them fun and interesting.”

She continued, “Their final goal in Riverside is ‘it takes a village,’ and that’s why I’m emphasizing community building, because it takes all of us to make our kids do their best. »

Spending time with the students is what Whalen looks forward to the most. “I look forward to reading with them, going to their classrooms and seeing the things they learn,” she says. “It’s always exciting to see the light bulb go on for a child in a classroom.”

Whalen served as principal of Sayen Elementary School in Hamilton Township from 2005 to 2019 and served as guidance counselor in Hamilton District for nine years prior. She earned a Master of Arts in School Leadership, Counseling, and Personnel Services from the College of New Jersey and an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Elizabethtown College.

Joy Barnes Johnson

Barnes-Johnson, who has been in the PPS district for about 15 years, has a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University with a primary focus on STEM education teaching and policy. She has taught chemistry, materials science, environmental science, and STEM-related humanities, and is currently writing a book about black educators and their allies working to pass on a legacy of joy to youth and communities. .

She has published several articles on teacher preparation, policy and curriculum design and has led professional development programs at the school, district and community levels. Her research explores equitable science teaching and learning, and she has presented at a number of conferences, expanding her work in sociology and social science education.

Barnes-Johnson has taught American cultural English, chemistry, and science education in China, Jamaica, and the United States. She works as a thesis coach with graduate students and volunteers with educational outreach programs throughout New Jersey, including the Trenton branch of the NAACP and the Paul Robeson House in Princeton, where she is president of the program committee.

Reflecting on her new position, Barnes-Johnson stressed the importance of continuity in the science department at PPS, “the fact that I’ve been there and understood the vision that was set many years to build STEM teaching capacity for all students at all levels.

She expressed her enthusiasm for taking on the challenges of her new position. “To continue to help research programs grow, to continue to see broader and richer participation of all students in our science programs at all levels, the integration of science with mathematics, humanities, engineering and innovation over the next cycle of growth is something I look forward to,” she said.

Barnes-Johnson noted that two of the greatest strengths she brings to the job are her belief in fair science education and the fact that she is “very invested in our community.”

She spoke about her vision for equitable science education. “It ended up meaning a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but my background in sociology, my past opportunities to do research in academia, and my background in curriculum lends itself to that,” he said. she declared.

She continued: “I’m excited to see our offerings grow, so that the idea of ​​rigorous science goes beyond just AP classes, and every child has the opportunity to do research. We’re expanding our course offerings to open these rigorous programs to everyone, creating more bridging programs where students who are a bit apprehensive of taking advanced courses will have more opportunities to participate at a pace that steers them toward career options. been widened. It also means expanding the preparation pipeline so that when students arrive in high school, they feel prepared for advanced grades. »

She added that she would like to see more and better science classes for high school students and also for middle and elementary school students.

Two specific challenges she will face in the next school year are the transition from teacher to administrator, “disabling my teacher self to favor my administrator self” and the growing population of Princeton schools. “This burgeoning population is a very real challenge that we face,” she said. “We are growing as a community, and where are we going? We are already running out of space.

With the start of the new school year approaching, Barnes-Johnson is delighted to the next phase of his career and opportunities to contribute to PPS’s continued leadership in STEM education.

“I’m excited to help shape the course of high school from my positions as a science and racial literacy educator,” she said. “I will be lucky enough to be at places and at tables where I have not been able to be as a teacher.”

About Thomas Brown

Check Also

CHRONICLE: Four stories I’m following this Lady Raiders basketball season

History links MURFRESBORO, Tenn. — After two exhibition wins, the Lady Raiders …