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New Hoboken High School Principal 'Up to the Challenge'

After working in Hoboken's school district since 2003, Robin Piccapietra was appointed to be the high school's new principal.

Robin Piccapietra has her work cut out for her.

As the brand new full time principal of Hoboken High, she is about to take a good look in the high school's proverbial mirror. And that, Piccapietra said, means "not always just pleasant things."

"We have the potential to do very well here," she said in a recent phone interview. "We could really bring some change."

Piccapietra has been part of the Hoboken public school district since September 2002, following a 14-year career at Merrill Lynch. She has lived in Hoboken since 1995.

Piccapietra was the vice principal of Hoboken High and became the interim principal when former head of the high school Noreen Lazaruik resigned over the summer.

Piccapietra's two biggest priorities, she said, are increasing parental involvement and increasing test scores at the school.

"We struggle with math," Piccapietra said. One of the ways to increase those scores, she said, is to offer a lot of additional instruction. Over the next couple of months, she said, she will take a look at where the school's weaknesses are and how to improve them.

"A lot of students are doing supplemental math courses," she said.

Secondly, Piccapietra continued, "we really, really have to work on parents. We have very little parental involvement."

While parental attendance to PTO meetings is creeping up — from about five or six parents to 15 this year — it's still nowhere near where it should be, Piccapietra said.

"You don't (just) want to meet the parents when the kid does something wrong," Piccapietra said.

Another challenge facing the new fulltime principal is how to increase enrollment at the school. Piccapietra attended an open house at the Elysian Charter School recently, she said, and spoke to many students and parents there, in an effort to encourage students to choose Hoboken High after they graduate from Elysian.

A new program — "Red Wing for a day" — gives students the chance to shadow a freshman at the high school to get a sense of how things work there.

While excited and inspired, the task of revamping Hoboken High is also daunting.

"It's quite the undertaking," Piccapietra said.

Piccapietra, who is tenured as a vice principal, was appointed to a one year term as principal. Her contract will be up for renewal in June 2013.

"I'm up to the challenge," Piccapietra said.

XJS November 20, 2012 at 05:47 PM
If she tended bar she can handle a lot of problems at once. Seems like she was supplementing her income as a teacher to do it too. So we have a hardworking women who held two jobs, while rising through the ranks of her primary job as a teacher. Sounds like someone who can handle pressure & manage her time. What is your problem with that?
Michael Ippolito November 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Look I had Ms. Piccapietra as a teacher and if anyone can make the school better It's her. So please stop bashing one of my favorite high school teachers.
JasonYH November 21, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I am very pleased with Ms. Piccapietra’s unanimous approval by the Board of Ed. Our conversations, both in PTO meetings and otherwise, suggest she has precisely the right focus on the right issues. In addition to the points above, I also expect good things in the area of staff development and management. Student performance relies substantially on 1) strong teachers and 2) effective curriculum/standards. In New Jersey, state-level changes promise improved curricula and standards. But identifying and developing good teachers and getting the most out of our educators depends heavily on strong school leadership (our principal). By all accounts, she is already proving herself on this front. Consider, too, the new state guidelines for teacher evaluation. As a parent, I like the idea of more data-driven assessments based on uniform standards. My sense is that our new principal sees these not just as regulatory burdens to overcome but (appropriately) as tools to aid in professional development. And that’s a good thing… Another big plus (imo) is Ms. Piccapietra's private sector experience. My guess is that her former career in financial services -- a very results-oriented space -- informs her approach to many things, and will add to her positive impact on HHS.
CuriousGal November 26, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Does anyone recall when Ms. Piccapietra was a "house leader" in HHS???
CuriousReplacement November 27, 2012 at 12:48 AM
No and I doubt anyone cares CuriousGal pal. But we are here for character assassination and to pay that ridiculous tuition at Stevens Cooperative since we wouldn't dream of putting our little cherubs in the public schools we are paid to complain about. So let's get that ball rolling, girlfriend!

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