Dr. Deneen Washington

Dr. Deneen Washington


Dr. Deneen Washington was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She attended Newark Public Schools and graduated from Malcolm X Shabazz High in Newark, New Jersey.

She attended Bloomfield College where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1991. Dr. Washington later became employed as a Family Service Worker for Essex County Division of Welfare in 1993. In August of 1998 she left the Division of Welfare to become teacher within the Newark Public Schools.

In September of 1998, Dr. Washington began working as a second grade teacher at Louise A. Spencer Elementary School. After teaching for two years she entered the graduate program at Saint Peter’s University for Education Leadership. In May 2001, she received her Masters of Arts Degree with an Administration and Supervision Specialization from Saint Peters College. She also received a certificate in the area of Education Supervision, Principal, School Business Administrator and School District Superintendent.

After three years of teaching, Dr. Washington was appointed to a Vice-Principal at Louise A. Spencer Elementary School where she supervised the Middle School Program. In 2002, she was a participant in the New Leaders for Schools Leadership Program. In July 2003, she was appointed as the principal of Maple Avenue School. During the time that she served as the principal of Maple Avenue School she worked hard to improve the academic achievement of all students, increase parent involvement, collaborate with community partners, and empower her staff members to improve their professional growth.

In September of 2009, Deneen entered the Doctoral Program for Educational Leadership at Kean University. She received her doctorate in Educational Leadership in May 2015. Her dissertation topic was The Impact of a School Based Mentoring Program on Middle Level Student’s Academic Achievement and Behavior.

Dr. Washington is a member of the following organizations: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., The Soaring Spirits International Organization, North Jersey Chapter of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Kean Alumni Association. She currently serves as the secretary and principal representative on the executive board of The City Association for Supervisors and Administrators and is a certified mentor for New Jersey’s Leader to Leader Program.

In 2017, Dr. Washington founded Edcamp Newark Leadership. She has led two unconferences within the district to empower teacher leaders and administrators.

Dr. Washington has been the recipient of the following awards that has recognized her as an effective school leader:

  • Dodge Grant Recipient 2007-2008, traveled to Japan to study innovative math designs and school culture
  • Dodge Grant Recipient 2008-2009, traveled to Kansas City to participate in the National Mentoring Conference
  • George King Memorial Scholarship Award endowed by Montclair State University’ Newark Urban Residency Program that provided experiences in talent management, mentoring and coaching for new teachers
  • Cahn Fellowship Program at Teacher College, Columbia University’s Distinguished Principal’s Program where she completed an action research project on the Transformation Pedagogy Model.

Dr. Deneen Washington is beginning a new journey with a high level of enthusiasm as the Principal of Belmont Runyon Community School. She looks forward to engaging teachers, parents and community with effective leadership in order to create powerful learning experiences for students within the South Ward.

VP Benders-Smith website

Sherell Benders-Smith

Vice Principal

Sherell Benders-Smith is the oldest of four children raised by two incredible parents, Oliver and Pamela Benders. As the oldest child she was the first to attend and graduate college amongst her siblings. This powerhouse individual possesses four degrees from higher education and seven New Jersey approved school certifications.

While attending these great institutions of higher education she obtained a BA in Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey, an MA in Administration & Supervision as well as a MA in Counseling from Montclair State University and recently received her EDS from Seton Hall University. With intentions to further her education and pursue her Ed.D to clearly show a distinction of her expertise verse her colleagues.

As a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated, Mrs. Benders-Smith serves as a mentor to her sorority “Rhoers Club”. She has cultivated these young women through numerous educational and academic extended classroom experiences, such as, but not limited to, youth symposiums, etiquette workshops, character education, self-esteem, peer mediation trainings and visitation of other states and countries. She is indeed a gift to all who encounters her.

Mrs. Benders-Smith is an extraordinary woman who is vested in changing hearts and minds of adolescents. She has worked in Newark Public Schools for 20 plus years. She has become such a vital part of the community, that she is a stand-in parent that has assumed young ladies from the school system.

Sherell Benders-Smith is also a guidance counselor and the owner of the Home of Positive Enlightenment, which is a nonprofit organization and home for at risk teens. With over 25 years experience, she is responsible for the overall operations and administration of the home. Sherell oversees counseling for at risk teens and provides them with life skills and coping techniques, and helps them overcome dysfunctional family life.

Genell Jackson

Vice Principal

VP Taylor preferred website

Denise L. Taylor

Vice Principal