Montclair High School’s Interim Principal Terry Trigg-Scales, speaking at an NAACP Education Committee Meeting on Zoom Thursday, shared details of Montclair High School’s remote reopening and her own reaction to a video shown at the Montclair Schools virtual convocation.
Trigg-Scales said she is only scheduled to be in her position through the end of October, but added that it’s a pleasure to come back to Montclair — even during a pandemic. She last served as an interim principal at the high school in 2018.
Trigg-Scales said the first two days of school would be an alternative schedule with an extended homeroom that would allow for wellness checks.
“All the research shows we can’t jump right into academics. Everyone is traumatized, by the pandemic, by racial unrest, social injustice,” said Trigg-Scales, who credited rising MHS senior and NAACP Youth Council President Genesis Whitlock with the idea. (Whitlock is the first ever student representative to the Montclair Board of Education; she will join the board on September 21.)
This homeroom time would also be used to help students review schedules, participate in some ice breakers, receive remote learning tips and make connections. She added that there would be additional check-ins at the beginning of each marking period.
The typical remote schedule will consist of A and B days set up with four periods each with breaks and a hour long lunch. The last period would offer a chance for office hours for students to reach out to teachers with questions.
Trigg-Scales spoke about restorative justice work continuing at the high school and stressed her interest in equity, climate and culture, “three areas near and dear” to her. She referred to Instagram posts by MHS students detailing racism and micro-aggressions and said it was important to pay attention to what’s being said by students, adding “our students feeling that way has to be addressed.”
She also mentioned Montclair High’s small learning communities – Civics & Government Institute (CGI) and Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and said people are feeling uneasy with the fact that those two small learning communities have very different populations — an issue that has been raised before.
“We are meeting to talk about that and taking a fresh look at those small learning communities, and whether they should be reimagined or redesigned,” Trigg-Scales said.
Trigg-Scales also responded to a question about the video incident at Montclair Schools staff convocation Wednesday that resulted in the removal of Dr. Joseph Putrino as principal of Renaissance Middle School.
“I was offended and I won’t go any further than that. I don’t want to talk about a colleague,” she said. “Dr. Putrino, as president of the Montclair Principals Association, as part of his welcome, showed a video of a Black father ranting, saying disparaging things about his own children. He was praising teachers, couldn’t believe teachers put up with all these things. The implied message was teachers getting praised, but it was rather offensive to use in that setting.”