As students fill the halls around West Windsor-Plainsboro for the beginning of the school year, two new administrators will also take the helm.
The WW-P school board hired Andrea Bean as the new supervisor of K-12 mathematics and Deirdre Bova as the supervisor of K-12 language arts and literacy — each at a salary of $105,817 — on July 26. Both assumed their new positions on August 1 and have been preparing for the start of the year.
Bova’s passion for the world of education was groomed right here in WW-P. She is a West Windsor native and a WW-P graduate. Bova’s parents were immigrants from Trinidad. She and her brothers were all born here and grew up in West Windsor. Her parents still reside in the township, where her father is an attorney. Her mother is his office manager.
Her parents set a “strong example of ambition” that has inspired her in her career, Bova said. It was at WW-P where she found her future career path. She had done a practicum while at WW-P South that placed students in various schools to enable them to try their hands at teaching to help determine whether it was something they really wanted to pursue. By the time Bova was a senior, she knew.
After high school, she earned her bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and American studies. After college, she was hired immediately at Community Middle School, where she worked for seven years as a language arts teacher before transferring to High School South for four years. While at Community, she began working toward her master’s degree at Monmouth University, where she completed her master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis on English.
A mentor suggested she earn her post-master’s supervisory certificate and suggested she would be good for a higher role.
Bova took the advice and earned the certificate in 2007. Then the opportunity came knocking this year for the K-12 language arts supervisor position, and Bova was selected.
Bova currently lives in Neptune with her husband and two daughters, ages two and one. At first, Bova was reluctant to go for the position because she had small children at home, and she lived in Monmouth County.
“We decided as a family that (my husband) was going to have to quit his job if I got the job so that I could devote my whole time to it,” she said. “He left his job at Sony, and he has been staying home with the girls. That’s really putting my mind at ease.”
Now Bova is ready to jump in. “I really do feel like the K-12 supervisor needs to lead the district globally and bring about some cohesion to the whole district,” she said.
Prior to last year, the positions were broken down into elementary, middle, and high school supervisory positions but have since been combined into one role.
“I really feel I could get all the schools together,” she said, adding that she wants to get to work immediately. She began visiting all 10 of the district schools this month. “I just feel that will help them put a face to the name,” she said. “I want them to see I’m passionate about unifying the schools in their literacy models.”
Having worked at two of those levels has its advantages, Bova said. She said she knows it will take extra work to get familiar with the elementary school level, but she is willing to put in the time. “I’m going to take as many workshops as I can, talk to as many teachers as I can, and visit as many classrooms” to observe and get to know the teachers and their needs, she added.
Being from the district that “basically groomed me for this job” is another advantage, she says. “Even though this is my first administrative position, my heart is in this district because I’m from here,” Bova said. “Passion can go a very, very long way. I feel that I’m good at language arts literacy, so when you couple that with my passion to see the district grow in the way it needs to grow, that’s the foot I want to put forward.”
Being responsible for the education of the children of some of the people she grew up with also helps drive her, she says. “I have to answer to my peers and my parents and my colleagues and people who have known me for many years,” she said. “My passion is going to drive me to do the best can do. That passion comes from years as a teacher and years as a resident.”
Andrea Bean also has strong ties and a long history with WW-P. Bean has lived her whole life in Doylestown, PA. She graduated from Temple University in 1987 and immediately began as a teacher at WW-P High School. She has been with the district ever since. As her career carried on at WW-P, she was encouraged by the principal at the high school to get her master’s degree, which she earned from the College of New Jersey in 2001.
Bean taught math for 23 years straight, with 20 of those years at the high school. She then decided that she wanted a change and decided to move over to Grover Middle School to teach, where she has for the past three years.
“I am most passionate about making sure we teach the whole child,” said Bean. “I love mathematics. As a teacher, it’s very easy to focus on the mathematical part, but I want to make sure we’re not just teaching math, but we’re teaching them common sense, problem solving, team building, and skills that will be important wherever they go. These are broader skills that will make them better contributors to whatever jobs they have.”
As she moved through her career, Bean began to branch out from teaching. “One thing I love doing is working with teachers and talking about structural techniques,” she said. “That’s what really appealed to me about the job — seeing different kinds of instruction.”
The K-12 supervisor is a fairly new position, as last year was the first year the district had a full K-12 supervisor, as opposed to breaking them down into subgroups (9-12, for example).
As she begins the new year, Bean said she wants to take the time to ensure she will serve as an instructional leader. “I think it can be very easy for the scope of the job to be bogged down to being all about paperwork and ordering,” she said. “All of that stuff is important, too, but I really want to take the time to become an instructional leader for teachers.”