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Pinelli appointed new principal of HVCHS

Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) has a new leader at the helm

Patricia Pinelli, vice principal of HVCHS, is the new principal after Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education members approved her appointment during a June 15 virtual meeting.

“We are excited to announce our appointment of Patricia Pinelli as the new principal of HVCHS. Ms. Pinelli has been serving as vice principal at the high school for the last four years and has been in the district since 2008,” said Board member Alyce Murray, chairperson of the Personnel Committee.

She added that the district will be conducting a search for her vice principal position in the coming weeks.

According to Superintendent of Schools Thomas Smith, the district received 40 applications for the HVCHS principal position.

“We assembled a 13 member committee of students, parents, teachers and administrators who interviewed eight finalists. The committee rank ordered the finalists based on the interviews, survey preferences and backgrounds,” he said.  “Over 106 CHS faculty and district parents participated in the “Next Principal of CHS feedback” survey. Two finalists were selected by the first committee and were interviewed by a six-member committee of district-level administrators. We were proud to recommend Ms. Pinelli to the Board.”

Smith also said in addition to Pinelli’s stellar work as the current vice principal of HVCHS, she has been responsible for implementing several district-level academic and social-emotional initiatives including grading reform and the Unified team.

Pinelli officially begins her new position on July 1, as she will replace current principal Tana Smith, who was appointed to a new position within the district’s administration. Smith will become the district’s new director of Human Resources.

“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen as the next principal of HVCHS. As a graduate of HVCHS and as a current resident of Hopewell Valley, the school holds a special place in my heart,” Pinelli said. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to work with such a talented staff and wonderful student body, and I’m excited to be able to give something back to a district that has given so much to me personally and professionally.”

She added that HVCHS is such a high-performing school not only academically, but also in terms of athletics, performing arts and co-curricular activities.

“I want to build upon these successes to ensure that each and every student has a positive connection to the school in some way. In addition to creating stronger student connections to the school, I’d like to increase our students’ connection to the larger community, both locally and globally,” Pinelli said. “From identifying authentic and meaningful ways to increase our students’ cultural competence, to establishing a school-wide optional community service program, to creating opportunities to collaborate with other high schools, I want to develop more ways that we can help our students become socially aware, connected citizens.”

For Pinelli her experiences as a teacher, data coach, vice principal, resident of Hopewell Valley and district parent aid in executing her vision for HVCHS.

The different professional roles, coupled with the personal experiences, will help me to see things from a variety of perspectives. Similarly, the relationships I’ve formed with students, parents, staff and community members will help me to better understand the needs of different groups and the viewpoints of others,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with so many different people as we all work together to help our students grow, learn, and succeed.”

Pinelli will be faced will early challenges as principal with the current coronavirus pandemic waging on. A return to school date for the 2020-21 academic year is not yet determined by state officials and guidelines for the new school year have not been officially released.

Beyond the logistics of ensuring student and staff safety, and providing meaningful instruction regardless of the format, one of the biggest challenges I’m anticipating is maintaining a sense of community. Relationships and connection are so important in education, and keeping those elements in an environment of remote learning or social distancing can be tough,” she said.

According to Pinelli, one of her goals will be to try to preserve a sense of school community as much as possible.

“The Dawg Pound, the cafeteria, and our class meetings might look different in the fall, but we’ll still be HV Strong!,” she said.

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