SPOTSWOOD, NJ - August is the Sunday night of summer as the saying goes for students, teachers and administrators, but with those dog days and September's back-to-school looming in the distance comes the hint of excitement for new beginnings. For Spotswood High School Principal Amy Jablonski, the 2019-20 school year will be her inaugural one. On Tuesday, Jablonski hosted her first official event as principal; a meet and greet for parents and students.
"We had a fantastic turnout," Jablonski said of Tuesday's open house. "We had parents and some students, which was wonderful to see. It was really just an opportunity to introduce myself. I wanted them to have a face to go along with the name that they were getting on corresondance before the first day of school. It was great to meet some people in the community."
The former social studies teacher came to education from a different direction than most educators. Jablonski began her professional life as a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch after graduating from Johns Hopkins University, managing the portfolios of a very wealthy clientele.
"I worked for a couple of years doing a job that was super glamorous and not very fulfilling for me," Jablonskin said of her time at Merrill Lynch.
With business school on the horizon, Jablonski decided to make a life-altering change and become a teacher, following in the footsteps of family members who work in rewarding, people-centered careers.
"Working in the public sector is in our blood," Jablonski said of her family. "I really felt strongly that I wanted to teach."
After earning her graduate degree and teaching certification through the College of New Jersey, the Mercer County native found herself hired by her alma mater, West Windsor Plainsboro North High School, prior to her graduation. Jablonski was in the classroom for a decade before she considered another change.
"It was my principal at the time that encouraged me to go back and get my principal certification," Jablonski continued. "So I did. I interned with him and with another fantastic assistant principal."
Then, Jablonski moved on from West Windsor Plainsboro North to serve as an assistant principal and supervisor of the humanities at Bordentown Regional High School for two years before heading to Holmdel High School to work as an assistant principal and supervisor of the arts for another two years.
Following those four years of serving as an assistant pricipal in two districts, Jablonski felt she was ready to take on the challenges of a principalship.
"I've always sort of trusted by gut about when I was ready for different things," Jablonski explained. "I felt ready to be a principal and saw this opening."
At the urging of her fellow Holmdel High School assistant principal who hails from nearby Monroe Township, Jablonski applied and is beginning the next chapter in her career in education. She was approved by the Spotswood Board of Education as principal of Spotswood High School at the June 4 BOE meeting.
Jablonski replaces former Spotswood High School teacher Dale Rubino who left after one year as principal to become the principal of Sayreville War Memorial High School where he previously served as a vice-principal. Rubino took over for Thomas Calder who was Spotswood High School's principal for 13 years. Calder retired in June of 2018. Rubino's quick departure left many parents in the district uneasy about the administrative turnover at the high school. Jablonski, however, is looking forward to an extended stay.
"My intention is to be here and to grow in this community and I love it here already," Jablonski said.
Jablonski does not foresee any big changes in her first year as principal.
"I think it is really important to understand the context and to go through a school and experience things as they are and then make decisions based on that," she said.
Jablonski met her new staff at a faculty meeting last spring and attended the graduation of the Class of 2019 in June.
"Graduation is my favorite night of the school year," Jablonski said of her experience at the June 25 ceremony. "It represents for so many kids and their families 13 years of education coming to fruition in that moment. I love the formality of it. There is such a sense of promise in the air at graduation."
"One of the things that I love is seeing how each district personalizes their graduation ceremony and makes it their own," Jablonski continued. "No matter what district you go to in New Jersey, there are certain commonalities, but there are also things that make it really unique. I am excited to continue that tradition here."
Freshmen hold a special place in Jablonski's heart since she spent the majority of her time in the classroom teaching ninth graders. Jablonski welcomes her first freshmen class next week at orientation on Thursday, August 22. Her staff officially returns on Tuesday, September 3 and school resumes for all on Thursday, September 5.
"I am so excited to be here," Jablonski added. "I love the cyclical nature of being in a school. While, of course it is always sad to see summer end, I love that every year there is a fresh start in September."