I was reflecting recently on the fact that often in the Rahway Public Schools administrators and teachers leave our high school to begin working in another building. They remain in Rahway, but because they leave our building we never really follow up with them or hear from them again in any kind of formal way.
As the advisor to the school’s newspaper, I thought I might begin checking in with some of these faculty members, now working elsewhere, reporting back on how they are doing in their new environments and new positions. One of the first people I thought of was Dr. Cary Fields. This past school year Dr. Fields began a new position as principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, after several years as one of the high school vice principals.
I reached out to her, asking her if I might stop by at some point and see how she was doing in her new position. I had personal reasons for going as well. I attended Roosevelt School myself and hadn’t been back, as far as I could remember, since finishing 6th grade there in 1988. During my visit, Dr. Fields gave me a brief tour of the building. While many things were different, I was amazed at how many things seemed the same and how many memories came flooding back to me. It was really a beautiful experience and made me remember my early years as a student in Rahway, inspired by my own teachers.
I even ducked my head into my old kindergarten classroom, seeing literally where my own education began. I want to thank Dr. Fields for the time she took to speak with me and for providing me with the opportunity to remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
Principal Dr. Cary Fields reading to Mr. Paul Pizzano’s first grade class
at Roosevelt Elementary School
Our conversation appears below.
Q: Dr. Fields, first, remind me a bit about your background.
A: Sure. I started out as a high school math teacher in Roselle. I eventually became a department
chair there and then a vice principal. In 2010, I came to Rahway as the math and science
supervisor. The following year I became a vice principal at the high school. While at the high
school, I also finished my doctorate in education.
Q: So tell us a little bit about the transition to Roosevelt.
A: Well, first, I have to mention some of the people who helped me make the move: Mr.
Farinella, Ms. Rivera, Ms. Robinson over at Madison, Ms. Clay here at Roosevelt, and especially
the secretaries here. Ms. Keat and Ms. Ruzak came in during their summer break in August to
help me adjust and provided so much assistance and support to me. They’ve been so great.
Q: What’s been most difficult in this new role? What’s been easy?
A: Well, what’s been tough is all the people I miss from the high school, the staff and the
students. But Roosevelt is really like a big family. All the teachers and other staff members were
so welcoming to me. It was just wonderful. Everything’s a bit smaller over here, so it’s easy to
build relationships. And elementary students treat the principal like a celebrity. Elementary
school is just different in so many ways. It’s a much slower pace, there’s no changing of classes.
It’s a real adjustment coming from a high school where everything seems to move much more
Q: What’s something that was surprising to you or challenging?
A: Well, something that was both challenging and surprising was how important the Halloween
Parade was to all the kids and their parents. It’s actually not at all easy to organize, but it was
great to see how much it meant to our students and all of their parents. It was a really nice event
that’s particular to elementary schools.
Q: What are some of your goals for Roosevelt School?
A: Some of my goals are to improve student achievement. I also want to improve the way we
communicate to the 6th graders the opportunities that are available to them at the Academy and
at the high school. On a shorter-term, more immediate level, I’d like to begin improving the look
of the building, adding a woman’s touch.
Q: Dr. Fields, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me.
A: Thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it.