Richard Molinaro is the district’s new director of math and vocational and technical subjects after spending a combined seven years as principal of Soehl Middle School and School No. 9.
By Gary Miller
Richard Molinaro always made the most of his opportunities to connect with students as principal at Soehl Middle School. He took photos with the students of the month each month, played the drums at school concerts, and even helped kick off the talent show with a lip-sync performance of old-style rap.
But he still missed his first love of being a math teacher.
“When I became a principal I would still pop into the math classes and I would find myself, instead of just being an observer, I would grab a piece of chalk or a dry-erase marker and do a little teaching myself,” he said. “I’ve always gravitated toward the math classes.”
This school year, Molinaro is moving into a position that will allow him to work closely with math teachers throughout the district. He is the new director of math and vocational and technical subjects.
“I’m a definitely excited to be here,” he said. “I always kind of looked to this position as possibly being the right placement for me one day. I enjoyed working with the math teachers and now I get a chance to really hone my focus and do that.
“It’s definitely a different mindset, because I’m working with elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers, which is nice.”
Molinaro has experience at all three levels since joining the district in 2001. He started as a math teacher at McManus Middle School for 10 years, before serving as principal of School No. 9 for four years, then principal at Soehl for three years. He also filled in as vice principal at Linden High School in 2011 and 2012.
“Mr. Molinaro has earned the respect of his colleagues and his students in every role that he has filled,” said Interim Superintendent Denise Cleary. “This is a vital position for our district as we continue to strive to boost student achievement at every level. Mr. Molinaro’s strong background in math as well as his successes as an educational leader make him a perfect fit, and we have every confidence that he’ll do an outstanding job.”
Molinaro is a graduate of Rutgers University with a master’s degree in educational leadership from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He said he’s gotten great feedback from other staff members as he made the transition to his new position.
“My former teachers at Soehl and School 9 have already reached out and congratulated me,” he said. “They’re looking forward to working with me closely in my new role. Even some new staff members, so that was exciting to hear.
“I’ve tried to get into almost all of the buildings already just to introduce myself. I just wanted to show a face with the position and make them feel comfortable, just to let them know that I’m here for them. And we’re obviously all here for the students, which is the No. 1 focus. And we’re going to do everything we can together to help the students out.”
Molinaro is also overseeing the vocation-technical classes at Linden High School, a diverse group of courses that includes engineering, TV digital media, graphic arts, carpentry, cosmetology, family and consumer sciences, and NJROTC.
“That’s going to be new for me, so there’s definitely going to be a learning curve,” he said. “But we have a great support staff here in the district. We have elementary school coaches, we have middle school coaches, we have department chairpersons at the high school. They’ve been very supportive. We’re looking to make great things happen.
“I’m just excited to have this position and looking forward to working with other supervisors and administrators in helping our students achieve their full potential.”