Chances are anyone who graduated from High School South over the past 23 years knows Carla Royster.
Royster, who has worked as a health and physical education teacher since coming to the district, will now get to know students at the middle school level. Royster, a WW-P alumna herself, has been hired by the district as the new assistant principal at Grover Middle School.
Originally from Camden, Royster came to WW-P in the seventh grade after she moved to Princeton. She graduated from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School in 1983. Her mother was a corrections officer, and her stepfather was a merchant marine. Her father was a contractor.
Royster made her way back to WW-P when school officials recruited her from her previous job at the New Jersey State Training School for Boys and Girls, where she worked with juveniles to help them earn their GEDs.
In working with juveniles, Royster ran anger management groups, taught conflict resolution, and helped create peace among juvenile inmates at the school. Those skills were helpful at WW-P as the district began growing and changing.
“I liked the idea of spending more time working with my passion, which is peace-keeping and anger management,” said Royster. “I’m happy wherever I go. I thought that coming here and working in the district would also be fulfilling.”
Royster currently lives in Lawrenceville with her husband of 20 years, Mark Anthony Royster, also a WW-P employee. He has been at head of security for High School North since its opening. Prior to that, he was in security at Trenton Central High School.
Since she has been a teacher, Royster has not wavered in her pursuit of knowledge. She has an undergraduate degree from Morgan State University, and has since earned three master’s and is in the process of obtaining her educational doctorate at Rowan. She holds a master’s of theology from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary at Rutgers; a master’s of divinity, from Trinity Theological Seminary; and a master’s in education leadership from Rider.
Royster decided to put her name in the running for assistant principal at Grover because she really believed she would be a good fit.
As the new school year approaches, Royster is focusing on her goals. “First and foremost, because I am new to the Grover Middle School community, I want to do some relationship building with the parents, teachers, students, and staff,” she said. “That is key for me. If you can build a relationship, people know you care.”
Royster’s second goal is assisting teachers with authentic instruction that will prepare students for global learning. “I am looking forward to helping any of the teachers to be able to improve in that area,” she said.
Her third goal would be to “continue to facilitate that academic excellence within a caring, supporting, and loving school community.”
When it comes to educational philosophies, Royster says she believes that “absolutely every child can learn.”
“That is the foundation of everything that I have done in education from the time that I began my undergrad,” she said. “I just don’t think that any child is incapable of learning. I think learning should be meaningful. Learning should connect on various levels.”
She also says that learning should be active and creative and that teachers should be passionate because it is contagious.
In moving from South, where she has been for 23 years, to Grover, Royster says she will miss the level of interaction with the staff and students that she had in a one-on-one setting within the classroom.
Despite the growing size of the district, Royster says she feels she can face the challenge of maintaining educational intimacy within the tight-knit community.
“I believe I have a gift to be able to bring out the very best in teachers,” she said. “I’m a teacher’s teacher, a team builder, a motivator.”
“I value what the teachers, parents, administrators and fellow students of WW-P have added to my life, and I count myself blessed to have yet another opportunity to positively impact the district that so positively impacted me,” she said.