By Wendy Greenberg
Princeton Public Schools (PPS) students will begin the school year September 9 with a new director of student counseling services, and Riverside Elementary School students will have a new principal.
Dana Karas, who has previously worked in PPS, is the new director of student counseling services, replacing Kristina Donovan, who left the district earlier this month.
Ebony Lattimer, who has an extensive background in math, science, and special education, joins the district as the new Riverside principal, as Mark Shelley relocates to Pittsburgh.
Karas, who will officially join PPS at the end of September, worked as a middle school French teacher in Princeton early in her career. She later taught French at the Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School. She was a school counselor at Churchill Junior High School in East Brunswick, and in 1998, she became a school counselor at Freehold Township High School, a post she held until 2003 when she returned to Princeton High School as a school counselor.
This fall, the guidance staff will be on the front lines as students return from remote learning and they resume their social connections at school. “Counseling is extremely important right now,” said Karas. “Many students remained remote and will be returning in person. The counselor is on the front line, recognizing signs of trauma, and helping students to be successful emotionally and academically.” She said this is a critical time to be responsive and supportive.
Karas, who was the New Jersey School Counselor of the Year in 2017, served for seven years in Lawrence Township Public Schools, first as supervisor of Guidance and Classic and World Languages and then as supervisor of Guidance, Careers, and Alternative Programming. She was at Franklin Township Public Schools for more than eight years where she was director of School Counseling, and supervisor of World Languages for grades 9-12.
A graduate of the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in French education, Karas earned graduate degrees from The College of New Jersey and Georgian Court College. She is currently completing her doctorate in leadership from Kean University.
Professionally, she has served as president of the New Jersey School Counselor Association and continues to serve as an executive board member for this organization, where she has co-authored the state’s current approved school counselor evaluation model. She has served as a committee member under the New Jersey Department of Education, where she contributed to the creation of the state’s social-emotional learning competencies and also served on the On-Ramps to College initiative.
She calls joining Princeton schools “a full circle moment,” adding that she had mentors on the guidance staff. “I am happy to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”
PPS Superintendent Carol Kelley said of Karas, “She has impressive experience in school counseling as well as expertise related to students’ social-emotional health and well-being. Her experience and her dedication to students make her a wonderful addition to our team here in Princeton.”
Ebony Lattimer will step into the Riverside principal’s position on August 23. For more than four years, she has served as principal of The Titusville Academy, which is a private, nonprofit special education school known for its work with students who have learning and behavior difficulties.
At Titusville, Lattimer helped to develop and manage a blended-model curriculum for special education students. Blended learning models combine online educational materials with traditional, in-person classroom instruction. Lattimer also served as vice principal of the International Academy of Trenton Charter School. For the last eight years she has been an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Lattimer, who grew up in Red Bank, was selected as a finalist by a committee of Riverside faculty and staff, district administrators, and community members.
“As the current principal of a school for students with disabilities, Ms. Lattimer has cultivated skills and expertise to help a broad range of students succeed academically,” said Michael J. Volpe, assistant superintendent for human resources.
Lattimer began her career in Neptune Township as a math and science teacher in 2003. She left her teaching position in Neptune to accept the principalship at The Titusville Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in administration and leadership from Georgian Court University.
In an email, Lattimer said that what impressed her about the district and about Riverside was the “commitment to educational excellence, and by that I mean not only academically, but also socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They truly do the work to ensure our students are strong, positive contributors to their community and our global community as a whole.
“In addition to being impressed by their commitment to educational excellence, I was impressed by Riverside’s expression of respect and openness to diversity and equity through their display of sawubona (a greeting that means “I see you.”)”
She added that she was looking forward to meeting Riverside students in September, and to working with the “talented Riverside teachers and support staff who make it such a welcoming and special place.”
Kelley noted that Lattimer’s “passion for students, her leadership abilities, and her knowledge of curriculum stood out in a field of very strong candidates for this job.” She also praised Lattimer’s interpersonal skills and her ability to utilize data to improve students’ academic achievements.