New principal named for Cranford’s Livingston Avenue School

Cari Lopez, carrying her daughter who was awake “past her bedtime,” turns from the microphone after addressing the Cranford Board of Education at its Aug. 27 meeting. Lopez thanked the board following its approval of her for the position of principal at Livingston Avenue School.

CRANFORD, N.J. — An assistant principal from Edison will take over as principal of Livingston Avenue School, the latest move in administration caused by the retirement of the Hillside Avenue School principal.

Cari Lopez, who has been the assistant principal at Martin Luther King and Washington elementary schools in Edison since January, will replace former Livingston Avenue School Principal Kevin Deacon, who previously had been announced as the replacement for Curt Fogas as principal at Hillside. Fogas will retire as of Sept. 9.

Superintendent of Schools Scott Rubin made the announcement at the school board’s Aug. 27 meeting, explaining the search committee’s process.

“After we did our final round, the panel unanimously said, ‘Go and get Mrs. Lopez. She is what Livingston Avenue needs,’” Rubin said. “The teachers on the panel, everyone said, ‘She would be fantastic.’

“First off, it was a very thorough process even though it was a short period of time,” Rubin continued. “In fact, the last iteration of the selection committee consisted of about 14 different community stakeholders, including Mr. Deacon, including parents, the incoming PTA president, teachers, administrators — a group of 14 different stakeholders, supervisors as well, that were looking for a special person to take over a special community and someone that would hold the ideals that we hold so close in Cranford.”

Board Vice President Lisa A. Carbone read aloud the resolution approved by the board that declared Lopez would begin her new post on or about Oct. 28.

Lopez began her career as a fourth grade teacher at Livingston Park Elementary School in North Brunswick.

According to a release from the Cranford School District, she has spent her entire career promoting causes including “anti-bullying, cultural awareness and social-emotional learning and has taken on several leadership roles in education.”

She taught fourth grade for 12 years and became an instructional dean at Parsons Elementary School in North Brunswick, where she served as the anti-bullying specialist.

“She was also involved in many districtwide committees, including language arts, cultural awareness, and the curriculum writing and revision committee,” the release said. “She served as the district representative to Kean University’s Diversity Council and met with educators around the state to help promote cultural awareness and reduce prejudice in schools.”

She was included in a panel of superintendents as a teacher representative that met with then-Gov. Chris Christie to discuss education issues.

“I just wanted to say that I am honored to be chosen to be the principal of Livingston Avenue School. It’s an honor,” Lopez said at the meeting, standing alongside her husband, Will, and daughters, Stella and Lucy. “I’m very excited to carry on the work that Mr. Deacon has done there and to work with the students and the staff and the families and the Board of Education just to continue to make this a wonderful school.”