John "Jay" Richter looks forward to putting his expertise to good use close to home.
Allen W. Roberts Elementary School's new assistant principal was raised in Berkeley Heights and is eager to share his knowledge and experience in his own backyard.
"I've always loved Berkeley Heights and New Providence," said Richter, who currently lives in his boyhood hometown with his wife and two children. "My wife is from New Providence so we really enjoy the area. I've been looking around here and there for an administrative position and when I saw this one pop up, I figured I had to try it.
"It was something that really suited my experience because it was an elementary position and so between that and the fact that it was in a great town in great neighborhood and really very close to my house, it really was a great opportunity that I'm very fortunate to have."
Richter spent the past decade teaching in the Morris School District. He began as a maternity leave replacement for a third grade teacher. From there, he taught fifth grade for two years and fourth grade for seven years.
Last year, he moved to the middle school where he served as an instructional leader, which he explained is very similar to a curriculum coordinator or a literacy coach.
"It was great to be able to work with teachers on their curriculum, and their teaching," he said. "I really enjoyed that. I hope that I can use that experience when I work with teachers here at Roberts school. I have a lot to learn about curriculum and instruction but I think that I have some experience that will help me as I go through the school year."
Richter, a communications major who minored in business, graduated from the University of Scranton in 1997. Following that, he began coaching soccer year-round and realized working with children was a path he wanted to pursue.
"That's when I started going to school at night to get my masters degree and teaching certificate from Fairleigh Dickson University in Madison in educational leadership," Richter said.
Another role of the new assistant principal is that of the Anti-Bullying Specialist.
"There's a couple of pieces to the new state law that came about earlier this year in that how we respond to bullying, harassment and intimidation incidents has changed and our main goal is just to focus on the safety of all children and make sure that we work together for that," Richter said.
A school safety team will meet several times a year to discuss how things are going in the school and how preventative programs can be implemented to stop problems before they begin.
"Our motto is 'AWR P.R.I.D.E.' (Putting Respect and Responsibility in Daily Events) and our main goal is to make sure the kids treat each other appropriately and make sure that we have a good, positive learning environment as well," he said.
Richter said he is grateful for the warm welcome he has received right from the beginning.
"I'm real happy to be here. It's a great school. Everyone involved, from parents to teachers and administrators as well as the Board of Education, has been very supportive of me," he said. "This a great opportunity for us to work together."