Kelly Elementary School in West Orange welcomes new principal

David Marion

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Longtime educator David Marion has been named the new principal of Kelly Elementary School in West Orange. He began work in mid-August to prepare for the start of the new school year.

Marion, a Verona resident, worked in the Dover School District for 20 years and served as principal of Academy Street School for the past 12 years. He received a degree in marketing from Montclair State University in 1997, an elementary education and teaching degree from Caldwell University in 2002, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Centenary College in 2008. He also served as an elementary school teacher and assistant principal.

Marion cited “quality of life” as his primary reason for wanting to make the switch from Dover to West Orange. Marion’s oldest son recently married and his youngest is a junior at Verona High School. Over the years, he has coached many of their sports teams, but the lengthy commute back and forth to Dover always posed a challenge. He also wanted to spend more time with his friends and family, and enjoy time golfing, paddle boarding and surfing. Feeling the need for a change, Marion applied for only one position: Kelly Elementary School principal. During the interview process, he felt it was the perfect fit, and he was ultimately hired.

“Having grown up in Verona, I am aware of the remarkable reputation West Orange schools have. It was this reputation, along with the town’s diversity, that interested me in applying for the principalship at Kelly,” he said.

Marion spent several hours with Kelly’s recently retired principal, Joanne Pollara, and the two have formed a friendship.

“We sat down and reviewed all my ideas, and many of hers aligned as well. Dr. Pollara is a wealth of knowledge and so awe-inspiring,” Marion said.

Marion described his leadership style as inclusive, saying, “Everyone should have a part and have a say. I know the buck stops with me, but I want to have everyone’s consensus. I’m fair, but you put the children first. I like to lead by example and prove it.”

Marion considers his passion as an educational leader is to build a student-centered community where all members of the school family contribute to the success of all students, and students feel supported emotionally, intellectually and academically.

In addition to meeting with Pollara; former Principal Joel Castillo, who transferred to Hazel Elementary; and staff members, Marion met with Kelly PTA members to plan events, and a School Spirit Committee was formed. Recent improvements have been made to the playground area for the new school year. 

“We have a golden opportunity to create change and build a special community here,” Marion said, “and if my past few weeks here are any indication, we are going to have a great year.”

When asked what kind of legacy he would like to leave, Marion stated, “I want to be remembered as someone who cared; kindness is a superpower. If a student learns to be kind, we have succeeded.”