At last night’s Board Of Education (BOE) meeting, the Board – by way of a ‘hand-carried resolution’ – voted to appoint Julianne Bello as the new principal of Ernest J. Finizio/Aldene School. This appointment was made due to the announced retirement of current Aldene Principal Virginia Gilcrest at the end of this school year.
School Superintendent Pedro Garrido provided an overview of the process before the vote. He stated that a search committee of eleven – including BOE member Loren Harms, Roselle Park School District (RPSD) Business Administrator Sue Guercio, school administrators, staff, and parents – interviewed candidates for the position. What originally started as a collection of 80 submitted resumes was whittled down to 15 prospective applicants who had attributes the district was looking for including, according to Mr. Garrido, a background in elementary education, a strong literacy background, and someone who was collaborative.
The 15 candidates were interviewed over three nights – each interview lasting about 45 minutes – and they were asked a series of questions which touched upon instruction, leadership, management skills, and personnel skills. A rubric was created to rank the applicants and based on those results, four finalists were chosen. A second round of interviews were held with a new round of more pointed, targeted questions. Additionally, a writing prompt was developed to determine how the candidates would respond to a scenario. Ranking the candidates again, two finalists were presented to the School Superintendent.
“After meeting with the two finalists, I agreed with the recommendation from the committee. Mrs. Julianne Bello turned out to be the top candidate,” Mr. Garrido stated, “She has excellent instructional strategies for our elementary students. She certainly is a collaborator and she’s willing to come in and learn about Roselle Park, learn about Aldene School and carefully make decisions that are going to move our district and Aldene School forward.”
Board members met with Mrs. Bello in closed session before the meeting, prompting BOE member Barbara Sokol to say, “I am basing my vote entirely on the recommendation of the committee and the superintendent. I just met the candidate tonight, but I do appreciate your work.”
The five member Board unanimously voted to approve Mrs. Bello’s appointment. After the vote, Mrs. Bello was asked to come forward and say a few words. She took the opportunity to address the community, “I am both honored and awed at the task ahead. I look forward to meeting with the community, with parents, and working with the staff, and certainly when September comes, meeting with the students . . . I certainly appreciate the task ahead and the opportunity to work with the community. Thank you and I’m looking forward to great things.”
Mrs. Julianne Bello, who received her Master’s Degree from Montclair State University in 2007, comes to Roselle Park from the West Orange School District where she was the Assistant Principal of Roosevelt Middle School since 2011. Before then, Mrs. Bello – who has been in education for 13 years – was a Language Arts/Literacy and Humanities teacher in Newark for nine years and then the Vice Principal of Dover Middle School. She was also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and co-authored an article titled “Stewarding Urban Teacher Education in Newark: In Search of Reflection, Responsibility, and Renewal” that appeared in the 2010 issue of Education and Democracy: A Journal of the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER).
After the appointment, newly appointed EJF/Aldene Principal Julianne Bello commented, “I eagerly anticipate meeting and working with Aldene students, parents, and staff to have a successful and dynamic year.”
Mrs. Bello officially become school principal on September 1, 2014.