PRINCETON: School district mourns death of longtime Riverside Elementary Principal Bill Cirullo (Updated)

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By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Bill Cirullo, who died Monday, was remembered for touching the lives of children in Princeton as a teacher, a coach and the principal of Riverside Elementary School.
The school district mourned the death of one of its longest serving employees, whose roots in the community ran deep. Mr. Cirullo, 67, traced his lineage in Princeton back some 350 years, the descendant of a past New Jersey governor. He would work parts of five decades in the school system that he had attended as a boy.
“Bill always put the needs of children and families first,” Superintendent of Schools Stephen C. Cochrane said in a statement. “He had an innate ability to connect with and to inspire others no matter how old or young they might be.”
As a boy, Mr. Cirullo attended kindergarten at then Nassau Street School. He moved through the school system before heading away for college.
Mr. Cirullo earned his bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Tennessee and later a master’s from Rider. He began working for the district in September 1970, first as a sixth-grade teacher at Community Park Elementary School. He moved to other schools before being named principal of Riverside in 1986.
In a 2013 interview, he recalled how teaching and working with children were things he always had wanted to do. “It makes for a glorious day to interact with kids. It is completely joyful,” he said.
“Bill was at once both deeply humble and larger than life,” Mr. Cochrane said. “A commanding presence in the classroom or on the lacrosse field, he was also simple and self-effacing enough to don a cape, a cowboy hat and a pair of goggles to delight the children of Riverside Elementary School as Captain Dismissal.”
Outside the classroom, he coached football and lacrosse at Princeton High School, his alma mater. He also helped start the Bobby Campbell Lacrosse Foundation, named after a former Riverside student killed in a car accident, that helps promote that sport.
“He’ll be missed,” said assistant superintendent Lewis Goldstein, who knew Mr. Cirullo for 16 years. “He left a legacy that will stand for a long time.”
“He was quite a person,” said Shirley Satterfield, a former school district employee.
Mr. Cirullo could trace his lineage back to colonial times. His maternal great, great grandfather was Samuel Lewis Southard, governor of New Jersey in 1832 and also an U.S. Senator and secretary of the Navy.

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