With the hiring of a new principal and assistant principal at Raritan High as well as new district supervisers, school officials say they are looking to raise Raritan High's profile as a competitive choice for younger students choosing a high school, as well as prepare all students for more rigorous graduation requirements and life beyond.
Raritan High School's brand new principal, William Smith, the former assistant principal at Red Bank Regional, is being charged with exploring ambitious new initiatives.
Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen said he has given Smith a to-do list that includes evaluating the potential benefits of block scheduling, the expansion of Advanced Placement course offerings, more opportunities for dual enrollment and college credit through Brookdale Community College, the creation of an academy structure for communication, engineering, science and technology, and the possibility of adopting the International Baccalaureate program.
"I think we can strive and raise the bar higher," said Bragen, who was promoted to his current position in October. Raritan's reputation as a strong high school is solid, he said, but "I want our schools to be the best of all of the schools. We don't want people to say, 'I go to Raritan because I live here.' We want to be the school they choose to go to."
School officials want to hold onto Hazlet's high achievers, said Board President Willig. "There's always a number of students who forego Raritan High School in order to go to private school or the career academies. We tend to lose some of our high performing students at middle school. One of our goals is to create a high school that has all of these things the other schools have -- and more."
At an informal "Meet the Administrators" event Tuesday in the high school Media Center, high school administrators welcomed parents, introduced themselves, and answered questions.
Principal Smith, who people often described as "dynamic," made a point to chat with nearly everyone in the room. He talked to one parent about ways to open up the school to the public and bring more attention to the good things happening at Raritan, his ideas to introduce RHS students to students in the lower grades through mentoring programs, and his drive to push up test scores. "There's no reason we can't be the best," he said.
The former English supervisor is a fan of literature as well as the the micro-blog, which he is already using to communicate with the school community. (You can read his daily Tweets here.)
"Will Smith will bring some energy to the building, and do things a little differently," said Willig. "He'll be a good leader for the school."
Another new assistant principal, Cynthia D'Arcy, will join Principal Smith and Assistant Principal Robert Generelli in the main office. D'Arcy comes from Marlboro's specialized Collier School Grade 6-12 school, which focuses on education for troubled youth. She holds a dual Master's degree in Public Policy Administration and Social Work from Columbia University.
Gregory Farley will be the Supervisor of Educational Technology, a post created to help the district maximize its investment in assistive technology. Farley recently completed his doctorate in Leadership and Administration from East Stroudsburg University. "We want to get the students up to speed with 21st century learning," said Willig.
Appointed to Supervisor of English/Language Arts is Reynold Forman, who taught literature for over 20 years with the Freehold Regional School District where he received the Governor’s Award for Teaching in 2001 and a nomination from the Paper Mill Playhouse for excellence in musical direction.
Superintendent Bragen previously announced the appointment of new principals at the elementary schools. The Lillian Drive Elementary School will be overseen by Kathleen Matsutani, and Beers Street 5th-6th grade school will be lead by Joseph Krouse.