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From Guidance Counselor to Vice Principal: Ms. Taha

From Guidance Counselor to Vice Principal: Ms. Taha

Amidst a tumultuous year consisting of a pandemic, extreme flooding, virtual classes, and multiple CHS staff positions to be filled, Ms. Taha took the position as the new Vice Principal. Entering a new school as part of the administrative staff is never easy, however, taking it on during such a chaotic time has to be a challenge. Excited to meet this new administrator playing a role in keeping Cresskill High School students and parent educated, safe, and calm, the Communique met with Ms. Taha to learn more about who she is.

As a long time member of Bergen County, Ms. Taha was not unfamiliar with Cresskill when offered the job as Vice Principal. She graduated from Ramapo College for undergrad, studying psychology, then moved on to get her masters in school counseling at Rutgers. Immediately after finishing her masters, Ms. Taha took on a job as a guidance counselor in Pascack Valley. She particularly enjoyed getting the chance to work with students starting from their freshman year, actually witnessing the progress they made over their four years at school. She worked as a guidance counselor for eleven years, with students of all different interests and abilities. However, Taha says, “About four or five years ago I realized that being a school counselor is a really rewarding job, and I loved doing it, but I wanted to have some opportunity to grow within my career.” She goes on to explain the Educational Leadership Program at Montclair State University she took part in, achieving a second masters in that area. This allowed Ms. Taha to take on administrative positions, which led her to Cresskill High School. When asked about what stuck out to her about CHS, Taha is quick to answer that it is the sense of community. “I really got the sense that the school operates as a unit,” she tells us. “Everyone collaborates and gets along with the interest of the students at heart. It just felt like the right fit.” 

The experience Ms. Taha is having this year as a Vice Principal is unique, to say the least. She took us through the traditional roles of Vice Principal: coordinating substitutes, lunch duties, and other essential aspects when in school. However, this year she is doing anything she can to help Mr. Massaro out, which often means being a response person for students and parents. This was just one of the many times Ms. Taha displays her optimistic disposition. Although this is not an ideal situation, Taha is grateful for the chance this year has given her to connect with as many people within the community as she can. For overwhelmed students at CHS, she tells them to keep their heads up. “Don’t think of this year as a wash,” Taha says. “ This year can definitely be salvaged. Stay motivated.” This positive outlook on a situation that can feel discouraging is something that is so beneficial during this time, and will without a doubt continue to be a source of comfort at the high school.

Don’t think of this year as a wash. This year can definitely be salvaged. Stay motivated.”

When students do return to school, Ms. Taha wants it to be known that she is someone to be counted on. She explains, “my guidance background really leads to me just wanting to be a support to everyone. I want the students to know they can approach me with questions or for support, or just to say hello.”  Although she has had few student interactions, she did get the chance to meet various seniors, as well as members of PACT during the seventh grade locker orientation. Although this is a lesser amount than she would have had the chance to during a typical school year, Taha is still grateful for the chance to connect to the students and get to know them. Expressing her excitement to interact with the student body was simple for Ms Taha, however when asked what changes she would like to bring to the school the answer did not come quite as quickly. “Until the school year starts, it is hard for me to identify the school culture that could use modification,” she says thoughtfully. “I don’t think I would be able to give a good assessment.” Taha shows true commitment to being an administrator who acts for the students, putting the interest of CHS at heart and never acting without intention. When students are able to return to in person schooling. Ms. Taha is ready to take on whatever tasks are at hand. She will be available for the students when needed, her bowl of candy ready to go on her desk.

 

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