Education

Dr. James Pedersen Reflects on His Years as SPHS Principal

59d729e6e30ea4d99561_Dr._Pedersen.jpg
 Dr. James Pedersen will be leaving his post as Principal of South Plainfield High School next month.  Credits: Victoria Caruso
59d729e6e30ea4d99561_Dr._Pedersen.jpg

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Since taking over as principal of South Plainfield High School four and a half years ago, Dr. James Pedersen has been instrumental in the establishment of dozens of new programs, has overseen necessary facilities upgrades and has worked diligently to update student safety measures. But, perhaps what sets Pedersen apart, is the fresh, energetic and hands-on approach he brought to the district.

“I came in with a different type of philosophy,” said Pedersen. “I didn’t want South Plainfield High School to change because of me. I wanted to be mindful of the things we did and the people it would affect.”

Last month, Pedersen announced he would be leaving July 27 to take on a position as superintendent for Essex County Vocational/Technical Schools. His departure means the board of education must add high school principal to its growing list of open administrative positions; in May, both Thomas Gialanella and Nicole Pormilli, interim superintendent and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, respectively, announced they would be leaving the end of June.

Sign Up for E-News

“I knew that one day I wanted to be a superintendent – not because of the title but because I really like to lead, bring in new ideas and work to implement change,” said Pedersen, who had also applied for the superintendent position in South Plainfield.

Pedersen earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English and his two master’s degrees – one in special education and the second in educational leadership – all from Jersey City University. Additionally, he obtained his doctorate in educational administration from Seton Hall University. He began his career as a teacher’s aid for a special education special in Jersey City before going on to work for the East Orange School District for 15 years. There, Pedersen served first as an English teacher and moved up the ranks, overseeing the English department, guidance, and other areas before being appointed assistant principal and then principal.

He came to South Plainfield High School in January 2011, replacing Dr. Ken May who had retired in June 2010; in the six months between May’s retirement and Pedersen’s appointment, South Plainfield High School had four interim principals, including Tony Massaro, Dr. Gary Bowen and Jose Negron; both Bowen and Negro also served simultaneously as high school principal and interim superintendent.

Pedersen brought to South Plainfield High School a multifaceted philosophy that was new and different. Rather than coming in and changing things to the way he felt they should be, Pedersen took the time to see what was and wasn’t working. “I didn’t come in and look to change South Plainfield High School because of me. I just wanted to make it better,” Pedersen said, adding that he also always tried to remain mindful of the decisions made and the people they would affect. “The things we were doing right, we kept doing; the things that were wrong we fixed and the stuff in the middle we addressed to make better.”

During his first year in the district, Pedersen established College and Day, and, in 2011, formed the South Plainfield High School Leadership Team. Pedersen worked to see new AP classes offered each year and, and as of September 2014, even made some available to incoming freshmen. Under his leadership, South Plainfield High School now offers DECA and robotics, there are engineering classes and a Teen Pep class, and music classes now have morning options.

In addition to programs and instruction, Pedersen also worked to see major – and much-needed facilities upgrades come to fruition. In 2013-2014, new gym lockers were installed and, last summer, walls were erected in the school’s science lab area to create four separate rooms. Additionally, the Information Center and instructional areas also received some much need updating.

“The teachers, staff, students and parents all have the ideas and there’s definitely a team approach here. My job was just to figure out what could be done, what couldn’t be done and what could be done first,” he said, adding, “So many people were part of all that was done here.”

On June 19, Pedersen will attend his fifth and last South Plainfield High School graduation and for him, it is all bittersweet. “It is the people and the relationships that have formed over my time here that I am most proud of and, because of that, it is what I will miss the most,” he said, adding,  “I really like South Plainfield.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Alejandro Garcia Boys’ Spring Track

The South Plainfield Boys’ Spring Track has continued to be one of the most successful programs for the Spring Athletic Season.  The Boys’ have been dominate in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division for the last few years.  After being decimated by graduation, the Tigers were not sure what the season would hold.  South Plainfield once again won the Blue ...

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Obituaries

Glenn Lucas passed away suddenly on the evening of May 21st 2018.  Glenn was born on July 8th ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Tree Olano Says "Thank You"

May 23, 2018

The infamous “Senior Gardens” is a huge part of the senior center .  The vegetables are all planted and ready for a fruitful harvest!

I wanted to extend a “thank you” the following people who made this happen:

The  Department of Public Works – Kristina Nieradka for taking my many calls with kindness and professionalism; Donna Zereconski, ...

Middlesex County College Graduates 1480 Students May 17

May 22, 2018

EDISON, NJ - A total of 1514 degrees and certificates were awarded to 1480 students by Middlesex County College Thursday, May 17 at the 51st annual Commencement exercises witnessed by approximately 3500 guests at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Valedictorian Sindhu Murthy (Highland Park) delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Ms. Murthy, who graduated in January and ...

Community Happenings

JOHN E. RILEY’S 1ST ANNUAL FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!

 

Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

May 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

Memorial Day Services ­Announced

May 22, 2018

The South Plainfield Memorial Day Services, hosted by the American Legion Post #243  and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post #6763  will be held on Monday, May 28.  It will commence at the American Legion Post 243 at 9:00 a.m.  The procession will start with the tradition of wreath laying  at 10 a.m. in Monument Park.( Attendees may park in Veterans Memorial ...

Road Projects - Closures

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -  Road resurfacing continues on Joan Street between South Plainfield Avenue and Maple Avenue plus Michael Street.  Roadways are closed to local traffic only.  This information was sent via Nixle Alert.

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_7a110ba1b1a66408e129_mini_magick20180522-67475-1v887d3

Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Memorial Day Services ­Announced

Wed, May 30, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield

Town-Wide Girl Scout Registration

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_760c3a884873d7076167_jim_peck

Sun, June 3, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Public Library presents ...

Carousel_image_ef935b6a75011efff62d_origami_craft_flyer-page-001

Thu, June 7, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Origami Craft Night at the South Plainfield ...

Columns

Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.

 

“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

Bookmarks

The South Plainfield Public Library will be closed this Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28 due to Memorial Day.  Because of the holiday, there will be no movie showing this week on Monday evening or Wednesday afternoon.  Monday Night Movies will resume the week of June 4, with a newly released selection.

This Saturday, May 26, the library is hosting a Mario Kart Tournament: Blindfold ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Press Releases

Pinkin Resolution to Raise Awareness of Gun Violence passes Assembly

May 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ - Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Angela McKnight and Nancy Pinkin resolution to raise awareness of gun violence was voted out of the Assembly 67-0 on Thursday.
            The measure (AJR-100) designates June 2 of each year as “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in New Jersey in order to promote ...