Mahwah hires new elementary school principal

Mahwah — The school board recently hired a new principal for Betsy Ross Elementary School, which means students soon will say goodbye to their interim principal of two years, Dr. Roger Bayersdorfer.

Siobhan Tauchert, currently the principal of the K-6 Westbrook Elementary School in West Milford, will start her new role leading the K-3 township elementary school in July, after a two-year search by the Board of Education which garnered 122 applications.

Bayersdorfer was hired as interim principal after former principal Christine Zimmermann took on the role of curriculum and instruction director July 1, 2012. Zimmermann had been principal for one year.

The interview committee, which consisted of Zimmermann, school board President Patricia Shada, two elementary school principals, Betsy Ross home-school association representatives and Betsy Ross teachers, selected 12 candidates for interviews.

Three candidates were called back for a second interview with Assistant Superintendent Janet Donohue, Superintendent Dr. Lauren C. Schoen and Zimmermann. After references were checked, the position was offered to Tauchert, school officials said at a school board meeting last month.

She will receive a salary of $118,000 under a one-year contract, said Business Administrator Edward Deptula.

Tauchert has held her current position, which is her first as principal, since July.

Previously, she was a special education teacher at Western Queens Early Childhood Center in Long Island City, N.Y., from 1996-1999 and at Washington Elementary School in Paramus from 1999-2001. She was special and general education elementary teacher at Edith A. Bogert Elementary School in Upper Saddle River from 2001-2013.

Tauchert earned her bachelor’s degree in special and elementary education from Marist College, master’s degree in technology and education from Ramapo College and second master’s degree in educational leadership from William Paterson University.

Tauchert is married with two children, ages 5 and 8.

Q. Your professional experience seems to be largely in special education. How do you think this will help in your role as principal of Betsy Ross Elementary School?

I have more than 17 years of experience that is pretty much cut down the middle between teaching general and special education. I’ve taught every age group, from 4-year-olds to fifth-graders. I think overall my experiences definitely give me a strong foundation to lead a high-performing school.

Q. How well do you think your time at Westbrook, nearly one year, has prepared you to lead a K-3 school?

A great deal of the reason I’ve been successful at Westbrook are the relationships I’ve built with those affected by the school, whether they are the students, teachers or parents. I’ve found the best things — the best results — emerge from your classrooms when your building becomes a community.

Q. What are you most passionate about with elementary education?

Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher. Even as an adult, I always thought I’d only ever be a teacher. After taking classes in administration, I realized how much more of a positive impact I can make on a child’s education. What I’m most passionate about is helping children. My passion will always be with the kids and how I can best help them.

Q. Is there a project/initiative you helped lead at Westbrook of which you’re most proud?

As a teacher and administrator of a school, I don’t think of success as a project that kicked off well. When I think of success, I think of children’s faces. For example, today I got a paper from a student I used to teach who said he had to share it with me because I’d be proud of him. My success has been in helping students, especially during difficult times.

Q. It may be early, but what are you looking forward to in your new school?

I’m excited to meet the community, students, teachers and parents. I’m looking forward to getting to know what are the needs of the children.

Q. What are your hobbies?

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