Come July 1, the Riverside School will have a new principal.
The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education appointed Max Achtau at its March 28 meeting. He currently is the principal of a Hamilton elementary school and will take over the reins from Interim Principal Nancy Whalen on July 1. He will earn $146,000.
“I am honored and extremely grateful to be selected as the Riverside School principal. Thank you for your support and confidence in me,” Achtau told the school board.
“To the Riverside School families, I look forward to meeting you this summer. I am very excited to be part of the team,” he said.
Achtau will be the sixth principal to lead the Riverside School – on an interim or permanent basis – since Principal Bill Cirullo died in 2016. Cirullo had been the grades K-5 school’s principal for 30 years.
He was chosen from among a field of 45 applicants, said Rebecca Gold, the interim assistant superintendent for human resources. They were all screened to ensure that they held the proper credentials, she said.
The list of 45 applicants was whittled down to nine applicants, Gold said. Of the nine applicants, five were internal candidates from within the Princeton Public Schools and four were external candidates.
The semi-finalists were screened by a committee that included school district staff and three PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) representatives. Three finalists were chosen from among the list, and visited the Riverside School, Gold said.
“This gave us a chance to see how they evaluate teachers, their leadership skills, their point of view and how they worked in a school environment,” Gold said.
Two of the three candidates were sent to Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelley for recommendation. The school board’s personnel committee also had input.
Kelley recommended Achtau to become the next Riverside School principal.
Achtau has 23 years of experience as an educator. He has been the principal of the Sunnybrae Elementary School in Hamilton since 2018.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in teaching from Tufts University. He earned a post-master’s degree in educational leadership from The College of New Jersey.