Editor’s Note: The Alternative Press of South Plainfield continuing profile series entitled “Meet the Leaders”. The objective is to provide our readers the opportunity to hear from South Plainfield’s leaders in government, public safety, commerce and other areas, regarding South Plainfield’s present and future outlook, their background and what they enjoy doing in their private life. In order to keep the format consistent, The Alternative Press presented each individual with the same five questions. We publish their answers unedited.
Meet Dr. James Pedersen, the Principal of the South Plainfield High School
What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
My parents were both educators and I fell in love with teaching at an early age. I fondly remember following my father to parent conference nights and school events. My first passion, though, was literature. I began my educational career as an English teacher and have had the opportunity to teach literature at the secondary and post-secondary levels. I enjoyed exposing students to some of the great works from writers like Emily Dickinson, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemmingway, and William Shakespeare. I enjoyed watching students connect with a piece of literature and learning new things. It is this same enjoyment that also encouraged me to pursue a degree in administration to effect change at a larger level.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing South Plainfield today?
We have a great school system with very caring teachers and administrators. The community is also a vital element to our success. We couldn’t accomplish the things we do without the support of parents, booster organization and community groups.
The challenge that faces South Plainfield is the same that faces most other thriving suburban communities – preparing our children for an uncertain economic future. I think the most important thing is to teach our children to develop skills that will provide them with the flexibility and adaptability to prepare for any changes that could occur within in the future.
What are the top priorities on your "to do list" as Principal?
I love our building and would like to see some changes that would modernize and beautify our campus. I am also working to expand the number of academic courses that we currently offer. For next year, we are in the process of expanding the number of languages offered in our World Language Department, increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes, introducing engineering classes, creating a STEM program, and continuing our co-operative education program with job placement opportunities.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy being the high school principal but it does fill up my calendar. When I am not doing things for the school I enjoy spending time with my three daughters, Emily, Veronica and Cynthia, and my wife Faith. I also enjoy reading and writing about various topics that impact education today.
Five words that describe South Plainfield are...............