Montclair’s Watchung School Principal Announces His Resignation

BY  |  Monday, Apr 30, 2012 7:20pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Dr. Turnamian at Blue Ribbon School award ceremony.

Dr. Peter Turnamian, principal of Montclair’s Watchung Elementary School, has announced he is leaving Montclair for an Assistant Superintendent position with the Newark Public Schools. Turnamian took on the position of Watchung principal in March 2010, after the resignation of Principal Marcus Rhaney.

Dear Watchung School Community,

I hope everyone is well. I am writing to share some important news.

This past weekend, with very mixed emotions, I accepted an Assistant Superintendent position with Newark Public Schools. I will be resigning as the Principal of Watchung School at the end of this school year.

It has been one of the great privileges of my life to serve as the Principal of Watchung School. The past two and a half years were some of the most rewarding and enjoyable of my professional career. I can’t think of another community that does more for its children and teachers than Montclair. The students of Watchung School are simply amazing! I have been very fortunate for the opportunity to know each of them. The decision to leave was not easy.

I also could not be prouder of the Watchung School staff. As you know, the greatness of Watchung School lives in the work of our teachers and staff and it has been a great honor for me to work with each of them. They comprise the very best our profession has to offer. I truly appreciate all of their efforts and I will miss them greatly.

Over the last several years we accomplished much together. In the coming weeks I will work to ensure a smooth and organized transition occurs so the work we began together may continue.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Alvarez for his leadership and mentorship during my time at Watchung School. He has been a source of great support and inspiration.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. I remain humbled by the trust you placed in me.

Peter Turnamian, Ed.D

This leaves two principal position that need to be filled (Watchung School and Bullock School) and a Superintendent position. Dr. Barbara Strobert, a former Watchung School principal,  has been hired for the position of Superintendent of Schools on an interim basis until someone is hired permanently.

One parents shares, “I’m a new parent at the school, but some parents have had a few principals and that’s got to be frustrating. The kids, teachers and parents deserve someone at the helm who is committed and will lead for the long haul.  And now it adds one more vacancy (with bullock) in the district without a permanent superintendent– that is a bit unnerving. But Watchung has been through this before, and we’ve got amazing teachers and a terrific PTA who will carry us through until the position is filled.”

One prospective parent, who put Watchung Elementary down as her first choice, said, “I’m surprised because Mr. Turnamian mentioned that he was excited to start his next year at Watchung since it would be his second year opening the school.”

Watchung parents—Are you upset about the news?

(Photo: Chanda Hall)


  1. POSTED BY zippyhaber  |  April 30, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

    To quote a line from the musical Wicked, “I couldn’t be happier…” about Dr. T’s departure. Watchung needs a real leader, not a socially awkward data-driven figurehead in a suit. Kind of a metaphor for what Montclair needs in general. As a Watchung parent, I have watched so many missed opportunities for “Dr”. T to bond with students (and parents), to lead teachers, to create a buzz, jazz kids up and generally create a dynamic learning environment. Personally he treated me like I was a customer at his restaurant, that when, after asking nicely to speak to the manager when my food was served cold, I was told, in so many robotic words, “if you don’t like the food, don’t eat here”. The waiters (I mean the teachers) are tight-lipped but seem miserable under his leadership. Some involved parents keep this school spirit afloat and with a real leader in place, the sky is the limit.

  2. POSTED BY behrekerst  |  May 01, 2012 @ 10:03 am

    Nicely stated, Zippy!! I couldn’t agree more as a fellow Watchung parent. Although we are heading to middle school next year, I can’t say how pleased I am to see Dr. T leave Watchung. For me, Watchung was at its best during the Gail Clarke years, but I frankly never saw any positive changes made to the school under Mr. Rhaney or Dr. T. I truly hope that the future for Watchung includes a committed principal who can create that ‘buzz’ that’s been missing these past few years. Watchung needs a leader who actually ENJOYS being with children. Isn’t that one of the keys to being a successful Elementary School Principal?!

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