SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Since taking as interim principal of South Plainfield Middle School in July, Leo Whalen has been working closely with the staff and the administration learning the ropes of the seventh and eighth grade building. 

"I want to look at what is going on and get a better idea of how things, such as the classes and programs, are running before I look into change; if we need to hone things, we will do that but I want to work with the students and staff to figure it out together," Whalen told TAPinto South Plainfield.

Whalen came to South Plainfield following 14 years with the North Brunswick School District. He served as assistant principal for Grant School from 2003 to 2005 and, the school’s principal until 2011. At that time, he was named principal of John E. Riley Elementary School, serving in that role until his appointment as the middle school’s interim principal this past July. 

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While he has no plans to make major changes overnight, Whalen does plan to make character education more of a focus throughout the school year. “I feel it is something we need to bring forward more at this age level so that students have a better understanding. It’s all about education; just like they are learning in the classroom, they have to learn that there are situations in life," said the principal, adding, “Our goal is to educate the kids and by building on that we can help enforce the message of what it means to be good to each other or being responsible and respectful.”

Currently, Whalen is also working to ensure that South Plainfield Middle School community is a safe place. “Security is very, very important. We are dedicated to making sure we have all the systems in place to keep the students and teachers when they are in the building,” he said, adding, “They were all in place before but we are really trying to reinforce them.”

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