SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – This past summer, Rosaura Valarezo was appointed Riley’s interim principal and, over the first month, the Jersey City resident has been busy getting a feel for the pre-K through fourth grade school. 

“I am really enjoying being here; it brings me back to what I am accustomed to doing,” said Valarezo, who retired three years ago following more than two decades with the New Brunswick School District.

Although she is an interim principal, Valarezo said she doesn't view her position any differently and said she is '100-percent dedicated.' She’s been arriving to school early, staying late, and spending time getting to know the students and staff. “I know I am an interim, but I do not feel like I am. I don’t look at the job like that,” she said. 

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Valarezo told TAPinto South Plainfield that one of the first thing she noticed was ‘how supportive’ the school’s staff is of one another. “They are all so caring and such amazing team players,” she said.

As the school’s administrator Valarezo said one of her goals is to improve student recognition. She is currently working with the teachers and paraprofessionals on the newly formed ‘school climate committee’ to establish criteria to acknowledge ‘students of the month,’ as well as those who are ‘most improved’ (academically and/or behaviorally) and who have perfect attendance. 

“My goal is reward our students and give them something to work for,” Valarezo said, adding that she’d like to recognize students for the aforementioned accomplishments and present them with certificates, courtesy of the PTSO, during a school-wide assembly at the end of each marking period. 

Additionally, the principal told TAPinto that she is also looking into implementing a ‘random of acts of kindness’ program. Students ‘caught caring,’ she said, would get a ‘Valarezo Voucher’ for the school store and have their name displayed in the building for the remainder of the school year. 

“I want all the kids to learn academically, to grow, but at the same time we need to recognize what they do. At this young age, it is so important to nurture and promote good things,” she said. 

Valarezo brings to South Plainfield experience as a teacher, vice principal, and principal at both the elementary and secondary level. She began her teaching career in Union City and has also taught in Jersey City, was an adjunct professor at both Rutgers University and Seton Hall, and, prior to her retirement, was employed with the New Brunswick School District for over 20 years, serving as a teacher, vice principal, and, up until her retirement three years ago, was principal of bilingual, ESL, and world languages. 

Following her appointment this summer, Valarezo told this newspaper that she considers herself ‘hands on’ as well as ‘tough’ and fair.’ She also prides herself on having ‘gained a mutual respect’ from staff, students, and parents’ and said she is dedicated to ‘promoting high academic achievement and working collaboratively with the staff and parents.’ 

“It is all about us moving forward and making Riley School a positive environment, a safe environment, and a welcoming environment for all,” Valarezo told TAPinto. 

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