New school administrator ready for position of advocacy

Assistant principal role follows roles as teacher and specialist

A role vacated by the promotion of an administrator provided the opportunity for a teacher to seek new connections and career growth in Tabernacle.

Melissa Gallagher came to the two-school district as an assistant principal on July 1. She calls the move the culmination of her career, one spent partly  as a teacher and specialist in the Pinelands Regional School District.

“It’s nice to see students seeing growth and seeing them start to care and be their person,” she remarked. “I’ve been an advocate for them.”

That advocacy led her to the assistant principal position — a role enhanced by having a son who is now 2-and-a-half  years old.

Gallagher’s introduction to education followed a job in marketing with the snack company Nabisco, but she eventually sought another profession tied to her love for math and education. Time elapsed as she earned a degree and certificate and landed herself in the nearby Pinelands Regional School District first as a math teacher, then  a math specialist and interventionist for students needing extra help.

The assistant principal position covers both the elementary and middle schools. Tabernacle’s is grappling with state aid loss projections and new protocols since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools in March. Gallagher has approached her new position from a learning perspective.

“You need to learn everything that’s going on from (students and staff) and especially with COVID-19,” she said. “I want to learn everything from everyone else for my own personal growth.”

No date has been set for district schools to reopen, but Gallagher wants to be part of the decision-making process and take ownership of those decisions. But she plans to continue as a student advocate.

“My personality is that I want to be welcoming and approachable,” she shared. “I have an open-door policy. Being a part of the team and giving my feedback as well.

“I’m very open and honest and I want to give that to my students as well.”