NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Georgette Gonzalez Lugo didn't waste any time after being selected last spring by the Board of Education to become the next principal of New Brunswick Middle School.
She came to the school for a few hours each day over the final week of the 2018-19 school year to meet the teachers and say hello to the students.
She wasn't prepared for the reception she received.
"I felt like a rock star," Gonzalez Lugo said. "Everyone was very welcoming. They were excited, happy. The students were asking me, 'Are you the new principal?' I said 'Yes I am.' They were cheering, they had a smile on their faces. That made me feel amazing. I said, 'This is going to be great.'"
Gonzalez Lugo has some great plans for the middle school after officially taking over as principal July 1, but she is far from the only new school-level administrator ready to get down to work when the school district opens its doors Thursday.
Carl Bampoe and Christine Damasceno are new vice principals at the high school.
Gisela Ciancia is the new principal and Erica Campbell is the new vice principal at Roosevelt Elementary School.
Violet Robinson is the new principal and Laura Cosentino is the new vice principal at the Paul Robeson Community School for the Arts.
Kelly Mooring is the new principal at the McKinley Kindergarten Center.
Steve Louka is the new vice principal at McKinely Community School), Camille Brown is the new vice princpal at Lincoln Elementary School and Mindy McCall is the new vice principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.
Gonzalez Lugo recently took time out of her preparations to speak with TAPinto New Brunswick. What she stressed over the 30-minute interview was her desire to get parents more involved in the school.
She said 20 parents signed up for the PTO and she expects that number to balloon at the Sept. 18 back-to-school night. She wants the PTO to help facilitate such events as Field Day with Dad and Making Bracelets with Mom for Mother's Day.
"The more the parents are involved, the better the grades, the less absenteeism will happen," Gonzalez Lugo said. "The students will develop more social skills, their behavior will improve. Basically, with that component we're going to strengthen the confidence that the parents hold. We're going to strengthen that confidence because they now feel part of the education and the education doesn't stop when they (the students) step out of the doors."
Gonzalez Lugo said she is also going to work hard to bridge a language barrier that exists for many students and their parents who are not fluent in English.
She envisions partnering with high school students to create a club she calls Breaking Language Barriers. She said the high schoolers would act as mentors, guides and cheerleaders for middle school students whose English is limited.
She began breaking that barrier a few weeks ago when 200 students and their parents came for sixth-grade orientation. She addressed the audience in English and Spanish, and even the PowerPoint presentation was in two languages.
Breaking the language barrier continues online where students can find a new portal - in English and Spanish - that will allow parents to see their children's grades and test scores, and school announcements.
There are a bunch of other things scribbled on her to-do list, such as helping New Brunswick Middle School become recognized by Future Ready - a statewide program dedicated to fostering computer science programs.
A new list of goals and a new vibe will be welcome at the school where a coach and paraprofessional was charged in March of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student on school grounds.
Gonzalez Lugo said as principal, she has the opportunity to establish a new tempo for the school's 1,200 or so students and 140 faculty members to follow.
"I come skipping to work," said Gonzalez Lugo, who had served as principal at Roosevelt School before moving to the middle school. "After 20 years (in the education field), I love my job. I love my career and I have a passion and I think I exude that passion in everything I do. I want to provide 150% of me and I think when you exert that, people are picking up on that vibe. I feel that, sort to speak, it's kind of contagious."