SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – After eight years in the South Plainfield School District – all of them spent as an administrator at the high school – Ronnie Spring will be leaving to take on the principal position at Sparta High School.His last day is Monday, July 8.
“It was a very hard decision,” Spring told TAPinto South Plainfield, noting that the distance from South Plainfield to his Sussex County home and his family, which includes three children ages 16, 12, and 6, played a role in his decision to leave. “For me, if they were all order, I would never leave South Plainfield. I love it here, but with them, at this age, I want to have that work-life balance that I cannot have working so far from home.”
Spring came to South Plainfield from East Orange in December 2011. Back then, he was hired as assistant principal at South Plainfield High School (SPHS) and, in July 2015, was named its acting principal. The following March, he was officially appointed the school’s top administrator.
As principal of SPHS Spring said he is proud of the new programs that have been added as well as the school’s recent ranking as one of the Top 100 in New Jersey. “From an academic standpoint we have provided so many more opportunities for our students here and tried to do it across the board,” said Spring, noting that in addition to the new STEM lab and upgraded technology, AP courses and the number of students who are taking AP exams have more than doubled in the past few years and classes like broadcasting, music technology, and graphics are now offered.
“It is not just about increasing AP classes for those top kids. It’s trying to provide students across the board with more opportunities to find their passions,” he said. “None of this would be possible without our teachers who have really stepped up.”
Spring said he will personally miss the students and is proud to have part of the high school for the past eight years. “We all know what a great place South Plainfield is…our kids are phenomenal and the one comment people always make when visiting here or simply just walking down the halls is how respectful and what good kids they are. We all kind of know that being here but what I am most proud of, and it is not really a ‘me’ thing, is that now other people are starting to notice a lot more what South Plainfield has to offer and what it is about,” Spring said, adding. “We always knew South Plainfield was this diamond in the rough and now others are realizing it, too.”
According to Spring, the school’s success is a credit to an ‘amazing staff’ that includes everyone from teachers and secretaries to the custodians, as well as the board of education, central administration, and the ‘unqualified support’ Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak has provided. “Nothing gets done without relationships and building trust in those relationships. I feel like I had the least input on the success because it is all these other people who do everything day-to-day and it’s them trusting me and me trusting them,” he said.
Effective July 1, Robert Diehl, an employee with the district since 1999, will assume the role of interim principal of South Plainfield High School. Diehl, who spent the last 10 years as principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, began his career in South Plainfield as a high school social studies teacher before being appointed as the school’s disciplinarian and, later, assistant principal.
“Bob’s been here. He knows South Plainfield and knows all about the school and the community,” Spring said, adding, “Everyone here just wants the best for the kids.”
During the June 19 board of education meeting, Dr. Lishak took a moment to honor Spring and wish him the best in Sparta. “Although we are happy for you…you will be much closer to home and have the opportunity to see your family more often, we all feel the loss here in South Plainfield… “ Dr. Lishak said, commending the outgoing principal for always treating the students, faculty, and staff with respect and kindness, regardless of the situation.
According to the superintendent, Spring’s ‘calming nature diffused many situations’ and he has the ‘ability to lighten a situation’ with his ‘witty sense of humor.’ “I have you seen turn a tough situation into a valuable learning experience for your students. You have always put the students of South Plainfield first and, at times, made some tough decisions that were not always popular, but were always made with the best intentions and the betterment of our students and the district. This shows your true character as an academic leader, but more so as a caring person,” she said, getting a bit choked up when adding, “Ronnie, I wish you nothing but success in the future and please know you have a family here in South Plainfield and you can count on us for anything you need.”
“South Plainfield is like a family,” Spring told TAP. “I feel like I am always going to be a Tiger.”
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