WHIPPANY, NJ - Calais School Executive Director David Leitner has announced that Calais School Assistant Principal John Cohrs will become the school’s new Principal effective July 1, 2020.

Mr. Cohrs, who also serves as the school’s Supervisor of Curriculum as well as the Director of the Calais School Extended School Year (ESY) Program, was hired during the 2019-2020 school year. “We are pleased to announce that John is being promoted to the School Principal position,” Mr. Leitner said. “John has many years of experience and leadership as a private school principal, and we are confident that he will provide outstanding leadership and management to Calais moving forward.”

Mr. Cohrs will succeed Dr. Diane Manno, who has served as the school’s principal since 2012. “Dr. Manno has been a wonderful Principal at Calais and is staying with us in a key leadership position that includes supervision of related services such as occupational therapy, mental health, reading, speech, animal assisted therapy and nursing,” Mr. Leitner said. “In addition, Diane is assuming leadership of several key strategic program initiatives including psych plus, 12 plus and 21 plus services.”

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As Executive Director, Mr. Leitner said it is his plan to hire a new Assistant Principal to support Mr. Cohrs during the 2020-2021 school year.

Mr. Cohrs joined the Calais family with more than 20 years of experience in education. He has contributed to school growth through various instructional and administrative roles in the early childhood, elementary and junior high school levels. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Calais faculty and looking forward to contributing as principal to their commendable work,” he said.

Mr. Cohrs has bachelor’s degree in Education from Caldwell University and a master’s degree in Education Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University. Throughout his career, Mr. Cohrs has facilitated numerous curricular programs in student leadership, enrichment, community outreach, performing arts, 21st century skills, STEAM and more. He strongly believes that every experience a child has while at school is a curricular moment and an important opportunity for growth and achievement.

Mr. Cohrs was hired as the assistant principal and supervisor of curriculum for The Calais School during the 2019-20 school year. He also serves as the school’s safety and security specialist, facilitates the Extended School Year Program, oversees teacher professional development and the ongoing mentoring of novice teachers. 

Dr. Manno has worked at The Calais School since 1999 when she was hired as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and School Social Worker. Dr. Manno became Assistant Principal at The Calais School in 2006 after earning her Doctorate in Education. In 2012, Dr. Manno was promoted to the Principal’s position with the vision of creating academic and social excellence in a special education setting. 

Working with special education students and their families is a lifelong passion of Dr. Manno’s, she said. Using a team approach with faculty, parents and Child Study Teams has created an atmosphere of trust, high standards of performance, and a customer service model as a keystone for providing quality programs for students in Pre-K through 12Plus.

Dr. Manno said she is excited about her new leadership positions at Calais and is looking forward to working with Mr. Cohrs, who brings so much experience to the position.

“At Calais, our faculty, staff, administration and our trustees represent the best of what is possible in Special Education,” Mr. Leitner said. “Together we will continue to learn, grow and improve as a community to be the best possible special education school by any measure possible!”