has a new principal, but her face may already be familiar to some district parents.
Melissa Palianto, who was approved as the school's new principal in March, has worked in the Westwood Regional School District for 11 of her 13 years in the education field. She started in the district as a classroom teacher and most recently served as a remedial specialist, school testing coordinator at and and the head basic skills teacher.
"I'm thrilled to be the new principal," Palianto said. "It's wonderful because I have such a strong background in the district."
In her previous roles, Palianto was responsible for leading some staff development, so she is already familiar with many of the teachers at Washington. A language arts program she taught to her peers last year is now the district-wide standard.
Palianto said her first goal at the school is to establish a positive environment for the students, parents and teachers. She also wants to enhance technology at the school with SMART Boards in every classroom and laptops available to any class that needs them.
Palianto, who is already very familiar with the NJASK test because of her prior role as a testing coordinator, said she hopes to increase student achievement both in test scores and other ways.
"I think that I have high expectations for everyone around me, including myself, but I think that I have a very positive way of telling people those expectations and guiding them in the right direction," Palianto said.
Palianto holds a degree in elementary education from the University of Deleware, a master's in curriculum and teaching with a specialization in reading and writing from Columbia University, a master's in educational technology leadership from George Washington University and a degree in educational leadership from Western Governors University. She describes herself as "a little obsessed with schooling."
For now, Palianto is working on schedules for next year and overseeing some work at the school, including a new blacktop area.
"I'm very excited to begin the new school year and get to know all the new students and parents," Palianto said.