Principal Tina Lehn greeted parents at a back-to-school coffee at South Mountain. A year ago, she was the new kid at school, with kindergarten-like jitters when she took the helm at the South Orange elementary school. What a difference a year makes. On Tuesday, she warmly welcomed Bonita Samuels as assistant principal and thanked the PTA for their efforts to renovate the teacher work room, plant a garden, launch a new Web site and bring technology to the school. Kindergarten classes at the Annex will have use of an interactive SmartTable, while Smartboards (installed last year in the upper grades) will be coming this fall to all third-grade classrooms.
The goal this year is to make South Mountain the "kindest, gentlest school it can be," Ms. Lehn said. Being inclusive and thoughtful of others is "more important than NJASK scores," she said. "It's at the core of what we should be about."