In Pursuit of 100 Excellent Schools, NPS Appoints Eight New Renew School Principals

June 19, 2014 (Newark, NJ) – Reaffirming its commitment towards realizing 100 excellent schools across the district, Newark Public Schools (NPS) today announced the appointment of eight principals to lead the 2014-2015 Renew Schools cohort. Renew Schools – created in line with extensive research identifying the common characteristics of successful schools – provide a wide-range of additional academic and social-emotional supports in order to ensure the needs of each individual child are met. This cohort of seasoned school leaders, with over seventy years of combined experience as educators and demonstrable capacity to improve school outcomes, is uniquely prepared to move these eight schools in a bold new direction in order to achieve academic success for all of their students. This cohort joins ten other Renew Schools for a total of eighteen Renew Schools across the district.
The five qualities successful schools with high levels of student achievement share are great school leaders; excellent teachers; a clear vision and mission; a safe building with flexible resources; and engagement with students and families. With a great principal at the helm of these new Renew Schools, the other four characteristics can come into place.
“The most critical goal of the Renew Schools strategy is to create the conditions necessary for success,” said Superintendent Cami Anderson. “With strong leaders at the helms of these schools, tightened accountability measures, and the ability to recruit, train, and retain the best talent, we can chart a course for enhanced learning environments and thus outcomes for our students.”
In Newark’s Renew Schools, principals will select their staffs through a city-wide hiring process that will ensure the right teachers are in the schools that make the most of their specialized skills. These schools will offer social and emotional supports that ensure students are ready and able to learn, including serving three healthy, organic meals daily, launching a school-wide mentoring program, offering families Adult Education classes in the evenings and on weekends, in literacy, math, and English. Renew Schools also make significant investments to create 21st century learning environments including updating their building’s wiring and internet access capabilities, and upgrading their computer labs with software aimed at reading and math acceleration and individualized learning.

The 2014-2015 Renew Schools Cohort is as follows:

Belmont Runyon Elementary School – Shawn Oxedine-Walter

An educator in the district since 1999, Shawn has worked as a bilingual Math teacher, Math Coach, and is now the Vice Principal of Miller Street. Under her leadership, Miller Street achieved gains in math on the NJASK. Shawn is committed to creating a collegial working environment where staff, families, and students can thrive.

Dr. E. Alma Flagg Elementary School – Ganiat Rufai

Ganiat Rufai is an instructional leader with an extensive background in special education. She has teaching experience in Washington D.C. and Brooklyn, NY, and has served as a Vice Principal in Washington, D.C. for the past four years. Ganiat is a results-driven leader who sets high expectations and has a record of building strong relationships with students, staff, and community members.

Hawkins Street Elementary School – Sandra Marques, Returning

Sandra began her fifteen-year career in the district as a teacher at Hawkins Street where she became Principal in 2012. She also served as Vice Principal at Wilson Street for eight years. Sandra emphasizes a culture of collaboration and collective responsibility amongst her staff and has expertise in aligning school operations with its values.

Rafael Hernandez Elementary School Patricia Gois
A Wilson Avenue School alumna and an NPS educator since 2002, Patricia Gois has long been dedicated to serving the Newark community. She began her career as a teacher at Ann Street School, and has been Vice Principal there since 2010. Patricia is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and is relentless in her pursuit of excellence.
Dr. William H. Horton Elementary School Ginamarie Mignone, Returning
A career educator in Newark Public Schools, Ginamarie began her district career in 1998 as a teacher and Literacy Coach at Burnet Street School, to where she returned as Vice Principal in 2007. She served as Vice Principal of Quitman Street Community School for one year before heading back to Burnet Street. In August 2013, Ginamarie became Principal of Dr. William Horton Elementary School. Her leadership skills and focus on family engagement fosters a high quality educational environment focused on student achievement.
Louise A. Spencer Elementary School Jenn Pellegrine, Returning
Jenn Pellegrine will continue as the Principal of Louise A. Spencer for a third year. Prior to joining the Newark Public Schools, Jenn was a New Leaders Aspiring Principal, taught in public and charter schools in New York City, and served as Director of Data and Assessment at Newark’s Our Lady Liberty Charter School. Striving to continually develop her own leadership skills, Jenn actively seeks out opportunities for professional training in programs such as Research for Better Teaching and Relay Leadership. Leading by example, she encourages her staff to grow professionally as well.
Luis Munoz-Marin Maria Ortiz
Building on her successful career with the Newark Public Schools, Maria will take the helm at Luis Munoz-Marin – where she started her district career as a Language Arts teacher – after serving as Principal at Alexander Street School. She has also been Vice Principal at Rafael Hernandez School and a Literary Coach Coordinator at both Miller Street Elementary School and Barringer High School. Maria’s spirit of grit and high standards helps establishing a goal-oriented and results-driven culture for staff, families, and students.
Speedway Elementary School Atiba Buckman, Returning
Returning for a third year, Atiba Buckman will continue as Principal of Speedway Renew. Atiba studied reading at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and brings expertise in literacy. Prior to joining Newark Public Schools, Atiba was a Vice Principal in New York City. Her commitment is to create a supportive school environment that prepares students for success in high school and beyond.