School district shuffles administrators for 2018-2019 school year

MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — On June 30, acting Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ficarra sent a letter to staff telling them that there would be a few changes in the South Orange-Maplewood School District administration for the coming school year.

“We believe these changes will strengthen our efforts to improve SOMSD’s operations, foster student-centered learning, and enhance student engagement as a means to increase student achievement while ensuring equitable access to all that SOMSD has to offer,” Ficarra wrote.

First, Elizabeth Aaron, who has served as Columbia High School’s principal for the past four years, will join the central office team as a principal on special assignment to work on districtwide initiatives.

“Ms. Aaron’s tremendous talents, her strong commitment to the community, and her deep understanding of the many facets of the district will be invaluable as we transition to new leadership,” Ficarra wrote.

Kalisha Morgan, who is currently the district’s director of planning and assessment, will serve as interim CHS principal. According to Ficarra, in her current role in the district, Morgan has had the opportunity to work closely with CHS staff. Prior to joining the SOMSD, Morgan served as co-principal at Orange High School.

Renee Joyce, who has been the director of the Montrose Early Childhood Center since it opened in 2015, will assume the vacant supervisor of special services position at the district’s central office.

Ficarra said Joyce will “use her many years of experience with various components of SOMSD’s special education programs to help the new interim executive director strengthen systems for this important department.”

And, former Marshall Principal Bonita Samuels, who was placed on special assignment during the 2017-2018 school year after she allegedly sent a photo of an employee along with an inappropriate caption to another employee, will become Montrose’s new principal. Ficarra said she will use “her early childhood education and special education experience to build on the strong foundation laid by Ms. Joyce and her outstanding preschool staff.”

These changes became effective July 2.