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» Home » Articles » 2006 » August 2006 » Back to the future

Back to the future

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08/23/2006   JENNIFER KELLEY  

Cherry Hill High School West alum Meloche returns to old haunt – as new principal.

Joseph Meloche was appointed as the new principal of Cherry Hill High School West by the Board of Education at a special action meeting held Aug. 8. He will take the reins from George Munyan, a district veteran retiring after 36 years as an administrator and teacher in the Cherry Hill Public School system.

Meloche has been principal of Carusi Middle School since 2004, and led Kingston Elementary School for a year prior to his appointment at Carusi.

A search for Meloche’s replacement at the middle school is currently under way.

While new to the position, Meloche is no stranger to the high school – he graduated from West in 1989. He also attended both Kingston and Carusi while making his way up the local educational ranks.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and a master’s degree in education from Holy Family College before beginning his career as a teacher at Willingboro Memorial Junior High School. He later went on to serve as a principal and curriculum coordinator in the Maple Shade School District.

But, when an opportunity arose for him to return to his hometown school district, Meloche jumped at the chance.

After spending years in various positions throughout Cherry Hill schools, taking over as principal at West, “is a culmination of what I thought was an impossible dream,” Meloche said. “The four years I spent (in the high school) shaped what I wanted to do with my future, as far as pursuing a career in education.”

He also noted that moving into the position is exciting because a number of West’s staff members were working within the school while Meloche was attending as a student in the late ’80s.

Newly appointed Superintendent David Campbell said he was “delighted to recommend Joe Meloche as principal of Cherry Hill West.” He added, “Joe is a talented and experienced administrator who brings energy, enthusiasm and a passion for his alma mater and its students. His leadership at Carusi has prepared him well and provided him with a clear grasp of the issues facing education.”

While Meloche presided over Carusi, the school saw its highest percentage ever of proficient or advanced proficient students on the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment tests (2006) – in mathematics, Carusi achieved an overall gain of more than 15 percent over 2005 scores. The percentage of advanced proficient students also reached the school’s highest levels during this year’s spring testing.

Meloche attributes the middle school’s record achievements to collaborative efforts between instructors and administrators, and “leading the staff in a different direction.” While principal, he placed an emphasis on individual instruction and daily assessments tailored to meet students’ needs – and “harnessing the heart and soul of Carusi – its dedication to helping students succeed.”

He plans to utilize those same leadership skills at West, he said. Meloche added he’d also like to increase community and parent involvement with the high school, in addition to focusing on daily instructional assessments in the classroom.

“Our job as educators is to challenge students in new and different ways,” he said.

“It’s about rethinking and reworking what we do and how we do it,” he added, “and continuously raising the academic level.”

But Meloche is careful to note he’s extremely proud to be building upon the foundation that Munyan laid down.

“I’m assuming responsibility for a very healthy school,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better person’s footsteps to follow in. (Munyan) was a tremendous leader, and he will be missed.”

Campbell also recognized Munyan for his remarkable career in education. Prior to his appointment as West’s principal in 2001, he served as the school’s assistant principal for three years and taught social studies since 1985 – Meloche was among his students, much to the new principal’s delight.

Munyan began his career in Cherry Hill in 1970 at Brainerd Junior High School, which is now Carusi.

“(His) career has been characterized by an unwavering devotion to the success of each and every student,” Campbell said. “The entire Cherry Hill community thanks him for his service and wishes him well in retirement.”

Like Munyan, Meloche plans to spend many years working with students in Cherry Hill – including his own. He has four daughters who will be making their way through district schools in coming years – one is already in attendance at Kingston – and noted that, as such, he has “a vested interest in what happens here.”

“My goal is to spend many years sitting in this office,” he said in a telephone interview with The Sun. “I’ve made a commitment to Cherry Hill West, and I do not have aspirations to move on any time soon. I want to be here living and working in the community with my wife and kids.”

According to district officials, interviews for a new Carusi principal will begin tomorrow, with the hope of having someone in place by the start of the school year. Assistant Superintendent Ken Hamilton reported that input from various community stakeholders has been reviewed and applicants were selected for interviews based on experience and alignment with community expectations. The interview committee will include the middle school’s parents, teachers and staff.

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