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Dr. Carol Kelley
A Vision for Educational Equity
The Fall issue of our newsletter emphasizes education; this is the time of year when students across our nation return to their schools and universities. This fall, Princeton Public Schools has a new Superintendent, Dr. Carol Kelley, so WJHCS decided to hold a public virtual discussion with Dr. Kelley to learn more about her background and to allow her to share her vision for PPS. The event was held on August 11, 2021 in partnership with the Princeton Public Library.
The discussion was moderated by WJHCS Trustees Antoine Newlin and Ashley Hightower, with introductions by Shirley Satterfield (President, WJHCS), Jay Warner (PHS Graduate), and Mojisola Ayodele (PHS Student Advisory Committee). Prior to joining PPS, Dr. Kelley completed her sixth year as Superintendent of schools for Oak Park Elementary School District 97, a public school district outside Chicago, Illinois.
Throughout the conversation, Dr. Kelley emphasized the importance of educational equity and the need to better respond to the diverse needs of PPS students. This was apparent from Dr. Kelley’s self-introduction, when she described herself as a “equity advocate and champion,” to her responses to questions about deep learning and alternative learning paths.
For instance, when asked about the role vocational and mentorship programs could have in the school system, Dr. Kelley endorsed them as “core” classes and programs. She supports “whatever grabs the student’s interest and can be meaningful and relevant to them and help them learn the content. This pandemic gives us an opportunity to reimagine school. So what are some of the things we have learned? What are the things we’ve done to make schooling more engaging for all our students?”
Furthermore, when recounting a story about her son’s experience in school, she emphasized the social and emotional aspects of school and how improving inclusivity in these areas are important to her; “I would not want any child to feel that they do not belong or that they have to mold into someone they’re not. I want our staff to show love, to show they care, to have high expectations, but to provide that support.”
This through line of equity for all students came up time and again in Dr. Kelley’s responses and resonated with the WJHCS Board of Trustees. Dr. Kelley is saying all the right things which, in a school system long shadowed by questions of unequal access and support, is a good start, but by no means guarantees success. That Dr. Kelley was willing to speak with WJHCS in a public forum and share her thoughts and aspirations, however, gives us the hope and belief that she will do everything in her power to achieve these goals.
We thank Dr. Kelley for joining us, and we look forward to having her join us at a future date for a follow up discussion.
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Links to our partner organizations' events pages:
Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church
Historical Society of Princeton
WJHCS Trustees Accomplishments and Honors:
Honoree: Leighton Newlin
Date: January 5, 2022
Elected: Princeton Councilmember
Honoree: Rev. Gregory Smith
Award: Ordination and Installation as Pastor
Date: November 20, 2021
Awarded By: Second Calvary Baptist Church, Hopewell, NJ
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Community Engagement Award
Date: November 17, 2021
Awarded By: Princeton University and Pace Center for Civic Engagement
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Liz Erickson Impact Award
Date: October 28, 2021
Awarded By: NonProfit Connection
Honoree: Bob Hillier, FAIA
Award: Reginald F. Lewis Community Service Award for Excellence in Business
Date: February 12, 2021
Awarded By: First Baptist Church of Princeton
Honoree: Shirley A. Satterfield
Award: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award
Date: January 16, 2021
Awarded By: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
Honoree: Rev. David McAlpin
Award: Recognition Celebration
Date: January 30, 2021
Awarded By: Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church