Princeton High School Assistant Principal Jessica Baxter has been tapped to become the next principal at the school.
She will succeed Princeton High School Principal Gary Snyder when he retires at the end of June.
Baxter was appointed to the top administrative post at the high school by the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education at its March 19 meeting. The vote was 9-1, with school board member Michele Tuck-Ponder casting the lone “no” vote.
Baxter will earn $160,000 per year as the principal at Princeton. The school board approved a one-year contract, beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020.
Baxter was chosen from among a field of nearly 60 candidates following a nationwide search and comprehensive selection process that included students, staff, parents and community members, said Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane.
Cochrane said Baxter, who has been an assistant principal at the high school for eight years, was “highly thought of” by every group who spoke with her during the selection process.
In those eight years as assistant principal, Baxter has shown her ability to care deeply about the students, to effectively lead high-level change and to get things done on a daily basis, Cochrane said.
“She is the ‘go-to’ person when something needs to be done,” he said.
Cochrane said he has “tremendous confidence” in Baxter. She is a powerful voice for equity in the schools and understands the issues of wellness faced by the students, he said.
“I look forward to working with Ms. Baxter and her entire team to build on the steps already taken at Princeton High School, and to do so in partnership with our community and a renewed sense of joy for students, staff and families,” Cochrane said.
In addition to serving as assistant principal, Baxter is the school district’s anti-bullying coordinator. She took the lead in implementing the Challenge Success student-engagement survey at the high school. She co-chaired the committee that recommended a later start time and a new bell schedule at the high school.
Baxter said that being named Princeton High School principal is an honor and that she is “extremely appreciative” to have been chosen. She said she takes the responsibility seriously and enthusiastically, and will work to ensure that Princeton High School is a place where all students feel included.
Baxter credited Snyder with being her mentor and friend. Snyder is retiring in June after 16 years at the helm at Princeton High School.
The in-coming principal holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish education and a master’s degree in applied linguistics, both from Montclair State University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of St. Elizabeth.
After the school board meeting, Tuck-Ponder said she voted against the appointment because she thought that, after 16 years, the need to hire a new principal would represent an opportunity for change. Baxter has been an administrator at Princeton High School for eight years.