SOMS HSA: Principal Uglialoro Put All Students First

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The following statement was submitted by the South Orange Middle School Home School Association Co-Presidents Jessie Wendt and Annemarie Maini, commenting on the announced resignation by Principal Joseph Uglialoro:

It has been a pleasure to work closely with Mr. U over the past four years as Home and School Association (HSA) board members, and for the last two years as the HSA co-presidents. Mr. U has been a true partner with the parent community, and was extremely supportive of our ideas and efforts to make the middle school a great experience for all students. Our sentiments and experience with Mr U were expressed very well in the letter that was read to the Board of Education at the June meeting that we both signed as parents of SOMS students.  That letter emphasized the three areas of improvement that we witnessed as parents and school partners:  improved communication, increased parent participation, and innovative and creative programming for all students, both during and after school.  All of this is important, and many of these improvements will continue to flourish at the school.  However the real loss to the district is an administrator that put all children first — not just the high performers, or the easy students, but ALL students:

  • he helped create more arts electives to give all students a choice in their school experience;
  • he adapted schedules and programs so that students that need extra support are integrated in the classroom with their core teacher and not pulled out for help;
  • he creatively addressed scheduling challenges and feedback from staff to create periods in the day that allow for a true advisory period to meet the needs of all students; and
  • he advocated for more transparency in the math leveling decisions and asked administration to move the accelerated programs to the middle schools for seamless scheduling.

We should all reflect on why this energetic, knowledgeable and committed educator ultimately chose to leave our district after investing so much of his heart and soul at South Orange Middle School.  We urge the Board of Education and district administration to review all community comments and have that conversation so that we are better able to attract and retain more educators like Mr. U.

Annemarie Maini and Jessie Wendt

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