Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dr. Lorraine Cella Picked as New Superintendent in Edgewater

Some of you will remember Dr. Lorraine Cella as the former Principal of Hoboken High School. Dr. Cella, a PhD from Columbia University, led Hoboken High to two successive years as a Bronze Medal Award winner from US News and World Report. The high school during her time of leadership was also recognized as the second most improved high school in the State of New Jersey (2008) by New Jersey Monthly magazine. And, she increased the number of students taking the SAT's and pursuing a college education (see the end of this post for a full list of Dr. Cella's accomplishments while Principal of Hoboken High School).

How was Dr. Cella recognized or rewarded? A few weeks into the 2009-2010 school year (the first full school year with a Kids First Board of Education majority), Dr. Cella was informed she would likely not be getting tenure in Hoboken. Not surprisingly, no one I have questioned can remember the last time an administrator with Dr. Cella's accomplishments and qualifications did not get tenure in a district in the State of New Jersey. As if that was not enough, a few weeks later Dr. Cella was escorted out of the high school. This action remains one of the most egregious actions in the history of the Hoboken Board of Education. Read the Hoboken Reporter's account of what occurred by clicking HERE.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Cella still cherishes her time with the students of Hoboken High and the work she was able to accomplish with her faculty and staff during her 28 months in the district.

All the best to Dr. Cella as she transitions to her new position in Edgewater. Also, a tip of the hat to the Edgewater Board of Education for being able to conduct and conclude a search for a superintendent in a timely and professional manner. -Dr. Petrosino

From the Edgewater View, written by Maxim Almenas.

Edgewater — When Lorraine Cella takes the torch from outgoing Superintendent Ted Blumstein on Jan. 1, she expects to have a good gauge on what makes the district tick.

Although Cella will finish out her last two months as assistant superintendent with the South Plainfield Public Schools, she will use some vacation and personal days to get to know her new students, teachers and parents.

"I'm very excited and really looking forward to getting started," said Cella. "The school board seems to be absolutely wonderful people interested in education. Even during the interview, they were very good listeners."

"It's a good fit," she added. "They need to see me as a fit, but I also need to see myself as a good fit. That's what will make it work."

While Cella has worked in Middlesex and Hudson Counties, most of her professional experience has been in Bergen County. She was both a principal and a teacher at the Brookside Elementary School in the Westwood Regional district and the language arts department chairwoman and a teacher at the Tenafly Middle School. She was also the principal of Hoboken High School.

Last week, Cella, a Tenafly resident, accompanied Blumstein to the monthly Bergen County school superintendent roundtable meeting to meet other superintendents and to get the pulse of the issues affecting districts on the county and state level.

But the issues are not unique across county lines, according to Cella.

"I think the whole state is under similar challenges as is the nation in terms of education," Cella explained. "The challenges are there economically with budget caps, while meeting the needs of diverse students. In Edgewater, the population is increasing, so those are added challenges."

But Cella believes current English as a Second Language programs in Edgewater are running efficiently and that Blumstein has done "a solid job," which will make her adjustments that much easier.

"I feel very lucky in ways to come in with things very stable, but I have opportunities to look for improvement," Cella added. "There are always areas to improve."

Despite the economic challenges, Cella plans to work closely with the school board by prioritizing and allocating resources, based on district goals, while "keeping in mind the needs of the children, which is first and foremost" said Cella.

Cella is aware of the relationship between the Edgewater and Leonia districts and plans to pursue additional methods of helping elementary school students in Edgewater feel more comfortable as they shift into the Leonia middle school and high school.

A former colleague of Leonia Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg when he was vice principal at the Tenafly Middle School, Cella feels that connection should make that portion of her transition much easier.

"There's one word for Bernie – brilliant," Cella said, adding that Josefsberg was one of her mentors when he was hired to oversee the English Department at the time.

"He's the one who taught me how about how to ask the kind of questions to get people to think in ways of getting things done. I learned that from him," Cella explained. "In some sense I'm forever thankful our paths crossed once and here they will be crossing again."

Cella was to be officially introduced on Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. during the school board meeting at the Eleanor Van Gelder School.

Full article: HERE

What follows is a list of some of the accomplishments of Dr. Cella and her staff during her two and a half years as Principal of Hoboken High School. The list speaks for itself:

  • Improved Hoboken High School’s ranking, making it the second most improved high school in NJ according to New Jersey Monthly, August 2008, . (the school continues to make AYP.)
  • Awarded Bronze Medal (2008 and 2009), US News and World Report, for continued improvement measured by socio-economic factors.
  • Improved technology use and access and organized staff development opportunities for Moodle, Apple production software, Frame Forge and other cutting edge software programs.
  • Assisted in the development and implementation of a new curriculum based on Understanding by Design and the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards to include common assessment measures.
  • Restructured the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme, two aspects of International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) along with IB Coordinator.
  • Created 9th grade interdisciplinary team, sophomore personal project, junior book publication project through Student Press Initiative, Teachers College, Columbia University and a senior service project.
  • Improved teaching effectiveness through training of supervisors and teachers in curriculum and instruction specifically Understanding by Design, Differentiated Instruction methodologies, and reading, writing and technology integration across curriculum.
  • Helped to procure and maintain the running of $300,000 grant from the Department of Children and Families for our School Based Youth Services Program.
  • Upgraded facilities to include an Apple Production Lab, 150 new Dells, Fitness Room, Television Studio, and refurbished science labs.
  • Designed and implemented In-School-Suspension Program reducing the number of suspensions.
  • Increased student accountability by designing and implementing clear discipline policies, new academic requirements, and fair extra-curricular eligibility requirements.
  • Established a connection between Student Press Initiative and Teachers College, Columbia, University that fostered a book publication project for all juniors.
  • Increased connection with Stevens Institute of Technology to include, a Robotics course and a chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.
  • Initiated and organized public relations events such as Town Wide Literacy Day, Scholarship Benefactors Dinner, Freshman Day, school tours and Public Readings from My Square Mile Life, SPI publication
  • Reorganized the PSO to include speakers about Financial Aid, the college process and Standardized Test Scores
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