BOE Names New Brookdale Avenue Elementary School Principal

by Ashley Bouwense

Nicole Stuto will begin her role as Brookdale Avenue Elementary School principal Sept. 1, and she is both honored and excited to join the new school community.

“Verona has a history of academic excellence as well as a strong school culture,” Stuto said. “I look forward to working closely with the staff, parents and students.”

Stuto has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in elementary education from Villanova University.  She earned her Master of Arts in educational leadership from Montclair State University.

“I have always had a passion for working with young children,” she explained. “My mom was an elementary teacher for 40 years, so I was exposed to the profession at a young age.”

From coaching, cheerleading to directing summer camps, Stuto has had an array of experience working with children, which she said directed her to choose her career path in the education field.

Stuto currently serves as a K-5 instructional coach within the Wyckoff Public School District.  She primarily works in professional development, where she supports teachers in their instructional practice and the demands of district and state initiatives. Before serving in her current position, she taught fourth and fifth grade in Wyckoff.

Not only will Stuto have the responsibilities of school principal for 122 projected students this fall, but she will also work in other capacities, providing instructional literacy coaching and professional development to staff during professional development days and after school faculty and grade level meetings.

Brookdale Avenue Elementary School received 124 applicants for the principal position and, after a committee comprised of building principals, teachers and district level administrators narrowed the choices down to five contenders, Stuto was the top pick.  She was approved by the Board of Education April 26.

“Mrs. Stuto consistently demonstrated throughout the interview process her passion and high expectations for students, strong knowledge of instruction and pedagogy, a collaborative leadership style and an ability to build positive relationships with students, parents and staff,” said Superintendent of Verona Public Schools Rui M. Dionisio.

“Mrs. Stuto comes to Verona with strong credentials and a commitment to educational excellence,” he adds. “She is highly regarded as a respected educator who exhibits leadership in all decisions she makes in the best interest of children. Her background in reading and writing workshop, as well as her experience within the area of instructional coaching and technology infusion, makes Mrs. Stuto an excellent fit for Brookdale Avenue School and the Verona Public Schools.”

With the ever-dynamic education environment, Stuto knows that schools are challenged to prepare students to navigate within this technological age and, therefore, “It’s necessary to build a shared vision for the district and how students will be educated for the 21st century,” she said.

“As principal, the students are my first concern, and I want to ensure that each child is given tools and the opportunity to succeed. Changes in education are inevitable, and it will be my responsibility to continue to empower teachers, encourage students and engage the community in the learning process.”

Stuto has already had the opportunity to attend Brookdale Avenue school events, like the art show and band and chorus concerts. She will continue to attend events throughout the remainder of the school year.

She said, “It has been great getting to know the teachers and beginning to introduce myself to parents and students. I spent a day a Brookdale Avenue, where I was able to see the daily workings of the building while visiting the students engaged in learning in their classrooms. Mr. Rampolla has been an invaluable resource, and he and I will continue to collaborate.”

The district has provided a transition plan for retiring Principal Richard Rampolla and Stuto from May to June.

“Everyone has been so welcoming over the past month,” she said, “and it has been wonderful getting to meet so many community members, especially the students.  I look forward to getting to know each and every student personally and develop relationships with them, as I hope to be an important part of their educational journey.”

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