WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School Assistant Principal Lesley Chung has received her doctorate degree in educational leadership with a concentration in K–12 from Caldwell University, where she has also been asked to deliver the commencement address in May.
Chung has been part of the team at West Orange High School for 15 years. She began work as a school counselor in September 2005 and moved into administration in 2011.
“As an assistant principal/dean of students I wear many hats,” Chung said.
In addition to her doctorate degree, Chung received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Rutgers University in 2002, a teaching certificate in early childhood in pre-K–3 from Caldwell University in 2003, and a master’s degree in educational psychology with a minor in child/adolescent psychology from Montclair State University in 2005. After receiving her post-M.A. and supervisor’s certificate from Kean University in 2006, Chung received an expedited M.A. in school administration through the NJEXCEL program, as well as certification to become a director of school counseling, school administrator and superintendent.
When Chung made the decision to obtain her doctoral degree in 2017, she was four months pregnant with her daughter, who is now 3 years old.
“I am happy that I did not listen to anyone that told me to wait until after a few years of my daughter being born to go back to school. I started my doctoral program four months pregnant and continued to pursue my dream to make my daughter proud,” Chung said. “I was fortunate to know that I wanted to be a teacher at an early age. Then I pursued my dream to become a school counselor and was encouraged to become an educational leader by my colleagues and supervisor.”
She thanked her family for their support throughout her education process.
“I would be remiss if I did not thank my family for supporting me through the years. They would watch my daughter so that I could attend class and also continue to write my dissertation,” Chung said, expounding on her future plans. “My goal moving forward is to continue to work in the West Orange School District and move into higher education by the time my daughter is in high school.”
When discussing the current educational climate, Chung noted, “Administration has definitely changed so much within the past year living through the pandemic. All educators had to adapt and evolve to educate students and deliver instruction. I think most educators would agree that they would love for the days of old to resurface, with staff and students in the building working together. Of course, there are some features of hybrid learning that are beneficial, like synchronous instruction that can help medically fragile students.
“I want to be a positive role model for my daughter and our students. Do not let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do something,” she concluded.
Chung resides in West Orange with her daughter.