Roxy’s Best Of… Mendham, New Jersey

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Mendham Township Elementary School Principal Michael Craver Resigns

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It started with rumors whispered at the Mendham Township Elementary School Halloween Parade this afternoon, and I confirmed it with Principal Craver himself after the parade. Mendham Township Elementary School Principal Michael Craver has resigned. He intends to pursue a doctoral program that will lead to greater opportunities within education in the future.

I’m disappointed to report that I did not receive the official letter from the Mendham Township Board of Education in today’s mail, and there is nothing on the MTES web site, but as soon as I get a copy of it I will post it here. If you did receive the memo, I know our local Mendham Township readers and I would all appreciate it if you could summarize it by posting a comment here.  My understanding is that Principal Craver’s resignation is effective within the first weeks of November, and that the Mendham Township School Board has laid out a transition plan until a new principal is recruited.  Our new Superintendent of Schools Kristopher Harrison is due to join us on November 16th and will likely play a huge role in the transition and recruitment process. I also know from the school board meeting that Rex and I attended earlier this school year that the Board thinks the world of interim superintendent Catherine Mozak, who stepped in when Christine Johnson left back in May, and it would be terrific if Ms. Mozak could stay with the Mendham School District for this longer transition.

I’d also like to use my Roxy’s Best Of… Mendham, New Jersey site to create a forum for discussion. When the Mendham Township School District hired our new superintendent Kristopher Harrison away from Maplewood, I was impressed with Maplewood’s active online forum where parents lamented their loss and our gain with raves about their experiences with Harrison in their schools.

So, Mendham Township parents, let’s get started.  While I’d like to stay away from idle speculation, I’d encourage you to share your comments and experiences with Principal Craver and the Mendham Township Schools here.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments.

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Who's talking: Shari and Janet. Leave your comment
  • Roxy
    8:37 pm on October 31st, 2008 1

    To get this discussion forum started, I’d like to say that my experiences with Principal Craver were highly positive. He was our brand new principal when my older daughter, London, started Kindergarten in September 2006 at Mendham Township Elementary School and seemed young and enthusiastic. His door was always open when Rex and I had concerns with the Mendham Township Elementary School’s ability to deliver advanced opportunities to its stronger students vs. “no child left behind.”

    Over the past year, though, I began to have some hesitations that Craver was a “nine-to-fiver,” particularly when compared with our former Superintendent Christine Johnson and her tireless enthusiasm for best practices in education.

  • Mary
    6:34 am on November 1st, 2008 2

    Whether it was truly Mike Craver’s decision to leave, or the school board forced his resignation, it feels irresponsible that the change had to be made in the middle of the school year…couldn’t they have figured this out over the summer?

  • Senator Jackanapes
    4:15 pm on November 2nd, 2008 3

    How could anyone work under this Board of Ed? Thats the real question. Teachers (evening) conferences are on Election Day. Brilliant, Just Brilliant.

  • Roxy
    6:58 pm on November 3rd, 2008 4

    I wanted to correct any misunderstanding that I created with my earlier comment comparing Principal Michael Craver with Superintendent Christine Johnson. In expressing the thought that Mr. Craver had become a “nine-to-fiver,” I did not wish to appear negative but instead offered up the only possible reason I could see for his sudden departure, vaguely tied in with the need for flexibility that he expressed in his personal letter to MTES parents. It is perhaps unfair to compare him with Dr. Johnson, who was so devoted to the success of “her” programs that we found her making sandwiches and snacks for the kids during the first summer of Pathways summer camp.

    I’m working on a new post that expresses more of my own opinion than facts or answers; as promised earlier, I want to continue to stay away from idle speculation but I’d also like to make it clear whose side I’m on here…the side of the children, who are confused and saddened to find their beloved Principal Craver gone with no real explanation.

  • Janet
    9:46 am on January 7th, 2009 5

    Christine Johnson was never concerned about the mendham township school district. It was always a stepping stone. She stayed 1.5 years at the district before Mendham and she stayed at Mendham just a short time. She will do the same where she went. It was always about her. Why did they hire her??

    Mr. Craver was basically forced out….ask the teachers. An enlightened dedicated educator, the reality is that the MT BOE is run by people who do not have the first clue about how to run a school or how to prepare kids for the future. They are not curious. How many principals and supers have to leave? No organization can improve with the rapid and constant change in leadership. It is a huge loss for our kids, staff morale, the future. Michael Craver was a great Principal. But how much can you take from extreme parents and BOE members.

    Ask a teacher at MT what curriculum the school has for reading, writing, math. They can’t tell you because they don’t have one. Nice job Christine Johnson.

    Nice job BOE.

  • Shari
    9:02 pm on April 20th, 2009 6

    I’m thinking of buying in the Mendham Township district and curious how things are going since the arrival of the new principal. How is the morale? Does MT have good-to-excellent teachers? What is the new principal like?

    Also, are parents allowed to volunteer at MT elementary, or do they have more of a high security, pta-go-sell-giftwrap-outside-of-school type of culture? In other words, do you get to know your childrens’ teachers, and have a chance to contribute to their educational experience?

    Are MT schools as good as Mendham Borough?

    Is MT a great place to live for families with elementary-and-beyond agaed children?

    Thank you, Roxy and anyone who would like to comment! :)

  • Roxy
    6:13 am on April 21st, 2009 7


    Thanks for dropping by Roxy’s Best Of… Mendham. I don’t have black and white answers to your questions, more like a pleasant shade of grey. I’ll also hope that others will jump in with their own comments.

    Today our town votes on the 2009-10 school budget, and its passage (or not) will tell quite a bit about how supportive the community is of our schools. Last week, I attended a very well attended (standing room only) evening meeting that included the new (November) superintendent, the new (February) elementary school principal, the long-time middle school principal, the curriculum director and the director of special services. While I have some personal agenda issues that I will need to discuss privately with the administration, in that night’s public forum, everyone presented their case well for the benefits of passing the new budget, and assured us that our dollars will be well spent. They shared some statistics from the “school report cards” — a mixed bag that left me feeling great about the middle school (and I already feel great about my girls’ K-2 experience) but concerned about the 3rd/4th/5th grade transition period.

    So… the new principal, Cara Allen. Ms. Allen has been in my two daughters’ classrooms frequently. My second-grader says she sees her every day, frequently in the classroom but also out in the hallways and participating in school events. My first-grader is not as enthusiastic, as she’s found a new laundry list of cafeteria rules to be oppressive. As for morale among the teachers, it is a bit too early to tell. I had encouraging conferences with both of my daughters’ teachers a few weeks back.

    As for truly excellent teachers, we definitely have a great team. My two girls hav been enriched by their teachers from Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, though it is an important qualifier that we have no experience with the 3rd and 4th grades, other than not quite as positive word of mouth.

    On volunteering in the schools and getting to know the teachers, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the classroom (helping out in the library during my daughters’ library days, field trips, class parties, “mystery reader,” Incredible Kid Day, Writer’s Workshops, and more). That may or may not be a function of grade level (the younger, the more interaction). So definitely not as high security as “go sell wrapping paper,” but I don’t believe parents are encouraged to act as “free aides” in the classroom at the other end of the spectrum…. and I don’t think I’d be all that comfortable with excessive influence of “someone else’s mom” on my children’s educational experience.

    I’ll have to let my neighbors comment on the comparison with Mendham Borough schools. Since leaving New York City’s West Village in October 2003, I have enjoyed every day of the 5+ years that our family has spent in Mendham Township… it is truly a wonderful place to raise kids….and as you’ll find throughout my web site(s), there’s a lot of fun for grown-ups, too!


  • Shari
    11:37 am on April 21st, 2009 8

    Thank you, Roxy! And good luck to the Township in today’s vote.

    One more question. I saw something about Gifted and Talented programs in M.T. Do you know what grade the G&T program starts?

    Also, do you know how many classes there are per grade, and what is the typical class size?

    Thank you!


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