Kathi Cronin, Fair Haven schools superintendent and Mets fan.
By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Kathi Cronin, a Middletown native and Mater Dei grad, has two passions: public education and the New York Mets. “Hope springs eternal,” she says, referring to the latter, though the idea would seem to apply to both.
An English teacher at Rumsons Forrestdale School for eight years, Cronin later spent four years each as a Rumson curriculum supervisor, Deane Porter School principal and Forrestdale principal. “I’m on the four-year-plan,” she says.
Cronin took the reins as superintendent for the Fair Haven school district in January. She spoke with redbankgreen recently about why classroom teaching is better now than it ever was, why she won’t be cooking breakfast for teachers, and the secret process of declaring a snow day.
You’re the superintendent in a district with just two schools: the Viola L. Sickles School (pre-K-3) and the Knollwood School (4-8). What are the challenges of this job so far?
One thing I really like about being a superintendent instead of a principal is that you can network. You get to go to meetings and be out with other superintendents. Being a principal is really a lonely job.
There’s always the budgetary challenge of trying to meet the needs of every child. Another challenge is we do have really bright children, and it’s important that we meet their needs.
Enrollment’s up to 1,008 students. Bigger families seem to be moving in. It’s very important to keep our class sizes low. We average about 22 in a class, and once you get beyond 24 or 25, it does become difficult. It’s not like in the ’70s, where the teacher stood up in front of the room and did a lecture and dictated some notes. Teaching is so different now. The teacher acts as facilitator very often. We do a lot of differentiation: In a class of six students I recently observed, the teacher actually had three different homework assignments based on the students’ needs. That’s the challenge doing that within the budget.