Interim Morristown High Principal: How Can I Help?
Ethel Minchello previously served as Frelinghuysen Middle School's principal from 2003-2011.
It wasn't much of a retirement for Ethel Minchello.
Only six months had passed following her tenure as principal of Frelinghuysen Middle School when she began an interim project with the Mount Arlington School. Then, just last month, Morris School District Superintendent Thomas Ficarra gave her a call and asked if she would be available as an interim principal at Morristown High School.
But, that's OK for the 61-year-old Kinnelon resident, who has been in education for 40 years. "I knew I wasn't ready to give up education," she said.
That call from the superintendent came only days before the Board of Education meeting in June that saw hundreds turn out in support of Linda Murphy, who was set to be reassigned as principal of the Lafayette Learning Center. After a five-hour meeting, much of it in closed session, Murphy said she had accepted a new position as Director of Human Resources and Community Engagement.
Minchello said she knew Murphy well through her time at the middle school.
"I have great respect for Linda, I worked closely with her," Minchello said. "I just hope I can do the best and follow in the work she's done."
Only in place at the high school for two weeks, Minchello is mostly focused on getting everything ready for the 2012-13 school year. "When I come to a school, I ask, 'how can I help?'"
It's a lifestyle the Bayonne native has been part of since 1972, when she started in that city's school district as a history teacher. Since then, she has taught there and in Kinnelon then, in 2003, became Frelinghuysen's principal, where she remained until June 2011.
Given much of her education career has been in the middle school, Minchello has dove into the "Freshman Experience," which is established to both train incoming teachers, as well as help toward making student transitions from middle-to-high school smoother.
"It's a critical year," Minchello said.
Though she lives outside of town, Minchello said she cares deeply for the Morristown community, noting her son, David, lives in Morris Township. Eventually, David and his wife's young daughter, now three-years-old, will enter the district, she said.
"These are my kids, it's on a personal level," Minchello said. "I hope to work with the kids and faculty and get to know as many students as I can."
As for how long she expects to be in the role of principal at Morristown High School, Minchello said that comes down to when a permanent replacement is hired. "Interim means until they find someone," she said. "I'll work until I'm told not to. I'm doing all the work that needs to be done. What's working, and how can we improve. There is always something we can improve upon.
"I'm happy to be here," Minchello said. "I know I can serve this district well."