CHELTENHAM >> The Cheltenham School District recently has welcomed several new administrators to district, including the positions of administrators for climate and culture.
New Glenside Elementary School Principal
Michelle Robinson has been approved as the new principal of Glenside Elementary School.
Robinson comes to Cheltenham School District having served as principal of Chester Charter School for the Arts. In this position, she co-developed the school’s first positive behavior support management program to reward good behavior, implemented schoolwide standards for academics and language, developed a culture of schoolwide norms, oversaw the planning of and led the school’s 21st Century Learning Center with an annual budget of $375,000, coordinated staff training, developed summer and after-school programs, cultivated relationships with community partners, orchestrated parent learning opportunities, shaped instructional delivery for grades kindergarten to eight to meet 2016-17 school goals and ensured professional development of teachers on topics such as PA Assessment and Growth Mindset.
Prior to her role as principal, Robinson was assistant principal at Wakisha Charter School and chief executive officer of Watoto After School Care.
Robinson’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and early childhood education from Hampton University, a Master of Arts in elementary education K-6 from Columbia University Teachers College and a Certificate of Educational Leadership from University of Pennsylvania.
Robinson has held roles as an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s School of Education and GSE practitioner consultant at the University of Pennsylvania.
Robinson is a resident of Cheltenham Township with children in the district and served as the most recent president of the Cheltenham African American Alliance.
New Director of Elementary Education
Dr. Renato Lajara has been appointed as the district’s new director of elementary education.
Lajara comes to Cheltenham having served in numerous leadership positions within the Philadelphia School District. Such roles include principal of Kensington High School, principal of John B. Stetson Renaissance Charter School, principal of John B. Stetson Middle School, assistant principal of William H. Hunter Elementary School and teacher at Julia deBurgos Bilingual Elementary School. As a high school principal, Lajara was instructional leader of 700 students, managing a $7 million budget. His middle school experiences saw him overseeing buildings with student populations of 650. While an assistant principal at the elementary level, he participated in the management of instructional programs and logistical operations of a racially diverse kindergarten through eighth grade school with more than 570 students.
Throughout his career, he earned accolades for developing positive school cultures, reducing suspensions, increasing attendance and showing academic growth in key content areas. Lajara has implemented blended learning and research interventions to accelerate learning and developed curricula for ELL and special education programs.
His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, master’s/certification on educational administration and Doctor of Education/Leadership, all from Gwynedd Mercy University.
Administrators for Climate and Culture
Shareese Nelson, Robert Curry and Elsie Butler have been appointed to serve as administrators for climate and culture.
Under the guidance of their building principal, each will provide proactive leadership in the delivery of programs and services to support the academic, personal and social development of their school populations. While doing so, they will continually work in tandem with their school community to build and sustain positive school climate and culture.
Nelson comes from the Upper Dublin School District, where she served as an elementary teacher at Thomas Fitzwater Elementary School for more than a decade. She also worked as the assistant principal of the district’s K-5 summer school program that included enrichment coursework, credit recovery and Extended School Year experiences. She has coached teachers on project-based learning strategies and STEAM curriculum integration and supervised education students in the areas of curriculum development, classroom management, parent communication and professionalism as an instructional coach for La Salle University. During her tenure in the Upper Dublin School District, she served as founding member of the high school Connections Mentoring Program, founding member of the Upper Dublin Diversity Committee, member of the District Equity and Excellence Steering Committee and second vice president of the Upper Dublin Education Association.
Nelson is a resident of Cheltenham Township with children in the district and author of the school age novel, “The Me Inside,” a book designed to help students recognize and deal with their feelings.
Nelson will support Elkins Park School as its administrator for climate and culture.
Curry joins the Cheltenham community having worked as a lead teacher, assistant principal and behavioral specialist in the Upper Darby School District. In these various leadership roles, Curry collaborated with the instructional leaders to develop, implement and evaluate the various school missions, visions and improvement plans. He also managed student discipline issues and provided appropriate support as needed using restorative practices and positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS). Professional highlights of Curry’s include success with increasing family engagement, proven evidence of reducing of school suspensions and his active development of a social skills student workshop in collaboration with the Child Guidance Resource Center. Other related experience includes roles as a special education teacher in both the Upper Darby and Philadelphia school districts, therapeutic staff support for Delta-D and project manager for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
Curry will support Cheltenham High School as its administrator for climate and culture.
Butler has been a Cheltenham Elementary reading specialist since August 2015. Prior to joining Cheltenham School District, she worked in the William Penn School District as an elementary level school cite facilitator, lead teacher and classroom teacher. In her role as a Cheltenham Elementary School Reading Specialist, Butler assisted with the implementation of a Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) model and worked as a member of the Student Support Team (SST) to identify, support and monitor students requiring strategic or intensive academic and/or behavioral supports. As a school site facilitator and lead teacher, Butler participated in the Comprehensive Support Process (CSP) to plan, implement, monitor and adapt interventions and goals for students in the referral process and supported Home and School events and activities. Other professional involvements of Ms. Butler’s include roles as a CSD Welcome Ambassador teacher leader, elementary chairman for the District-Based Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development Committee and program director for the Beyond School Hours tutoring program.
Butler will support both Cheltenham and Glenside elementary schools in her role as administrator for climate and culture.