Holmdel Curriculum Superviser Susan Alston has accepted the position of Fair Haven's Viola L. Sickles School Principal.
She was appointed to the position at a pro-rated salary of $120,000, taking over from Principal Tom Famulary in January. Sickles School is a PreK-3rd grade school. Her appointment was unanimously approved by all nine board members.
Alston is currently the longtime supervisor of Humanities — social studies, English, language arts and ESL — for the entire K-12 district and recently became certified as a principal.
"She is thrilled about the principalship," said Fair Haven Board of Education President Mark Mancuso. "One of the things she said in several interviews is that she’s really looking forward to getting back to being with kids, because as a supervisor (you're) really not engaged with the kids on a regular basis."
Alston echoed that sentiment while having a piece of celebration cake.
"I'm so excited. I'm absolutely thrilled," Alston said. "I have just such (a) good vibe about Fair Haven and I've heard such wonderful things about Sickles School. I'm also thrilled to be getting back to working with students again … as well as teachers."
Cronin read a portion of "one of many" references sent to her on Alston's behalf, pointing out that it encapsulized the very reasons why she was chosen for the job:
"Susan is a leader and a lifelong learner ... She is well suited to this career path because of her personal and professional qualities ... She is cordial, respectful and caring; and, she listens, assesses and acts in a thoughtful manner ...Susan gets along well with faculty, support staff, students and parents. She is intelligent, a quick learner and will ask for the advice and expertise of others when needed." Cronin did not say who wrote that recommendation.
The search team, comprised of teachers, administrators, board members and a board committee, "all agreed that those were the things that drew us to Susan," Cronin said.
Last year in Holmdel, Alston appeared at public meetings at Indian Hill School and Village School to defend and explain the rollout of the Holmdel school district's new literary initiative, Readers Workshop, to parents critical of the program and unhappy with its demands.
A subsequent review by a board of education curriculum committee affirmed the value of the program, but made recommendations to allow it to be more flexibile, and to provide more ways for the schools to communicate student progress with parents.
Alston's resignation has not been announced by the Holmdel Board of Education.