By ERIN ROLL
Jeffrey Freeman has been named as the new principal at Montclair High School.
The current Edgemont School principal was one of two finalists being eyed to succeed former Principal Anthony Grosso.
“I am looking forward to working with district leadership and the Montclair High School community to ensure that all students have the opportunity to engage in daily, rigorous learning experiences that result in the highest level of social, emotional and academic success,” Freeman said.
His appointment was announced in a letter to families and teachers Tuesday.
Interim Principal Eileen Gilbert will continue to serve in that capacity until Freeman officially begins work as principal, which will happen after a new principal is selected for Edgemont.
“We are very fortunate to have someone as talented and experienced as Mr. Freeman already in the district who can take on such a key position,” Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said. “We are confident that his deep understanding of the district will combine with an unquestionably fresh perspective to lead the high school’s team of talented educators to new heights.”
Ponds praised Freeman for his work with the district’s restorative justice program. “It is clear that Mr. Freeman’s work will be student-centered, and he will bring the families, staff and community together to promote high academic achievement, build a respectful social-emotional climate, ensure equity for all and create a safe and welcoming environment where all kids can learn and all kids feel special,” Ponds said.
The other finalist for the position was Stephen Cirasuolo, a principal at a middle/high school in Boston.
The district hosted a town hall with Freeman and Cirasuolo on Nov. 2. Both were asked to share their insights on the high school, based on what they had gleaned from data from the Department of Education, and to share areas in which they thought the school was performing well and what needed improvement. Parents were given the opportunity to ask questions of both candidates.
Freeman has worked in the Montclair schools since 1999, as an English teacher, the lead teacher for the Center for Social Justice, MHS’ athletic director and an assistant principal at the high school before coming to Edgemont as its principal.
Grosso, who became MHS’ principal in 2018 after the departure of then-Principal James Earle, stepped down this summer to become the new superintendent of schools in Cedar Grove. Terry Trigg-Scales had been serving as interim principal following Grosso’s departure, until she stepped down from that role on Oct. 30.