Get To Know New Vice Principal Craig Jandoli
Nutley High School has welcomed Craig Jandoli as its new vice principal. He fills the vacancy left by Jackie Devore, who accepted the position of coordinator of physical education. Jandoli began his first year this past September and has a lot to bring this year. “I’m looking to bring in a fresh energy of pride, I want NHS students to be proud to be Raiders,” he says.
Although Jandoli is considered new to NHS, he grew up not too far from Nutley in Clifton, NJ. He attended Paramus Catholic high school with the desire of becoming a priest and studied to be a priest for a year or so after high school. Growing up, Jandoli knew he was a “people person” from a young age. Jandoli said, “I have always thrived when being surrounded by people and helping those around me.” Although he didn’t necessarily think that it would manifest itself through a school setting, he couldn’t be happier that it did.
After realizing being a priest wasn’t the career for him, Jandoli attended Seton Hall University and later ended up at Kean University to get his undergraduate degree in Special Education and English before becoming a special education teacher at Paramus High School where he taught for seven years. Receiving his Masters degree in educational leadership from American College of Education led him to his first administration job as a vice principal at Hawthorne High School in 2016, then becoming Don Bosco Prep’s assistant principal in 2020. “Having that administrator job at such a young age with so many things coming at you at once was one of the greatest things that happened to me. It trained me to learn on the fly and gave me the work ethic that I have today,” Jandoli says. His past experiences in other schools has shaped him into the administrator he is today for the NHS.
Jandoli has had to adjust to entering a school that is coming off really tough years since the pandemic, so he understands that Nutley High is a school that's eager to find out its identity; his goal this year is to bring the NHS back up on its feet. “Mr. Jandoli has brought in a positive energy to NHS that I haven’t felt here since before the pandemic,” senior Natalie Vitiello said. Although these past years have affected school, he explains that “seeing the way students interact and communicate new ideas gives me that hope that any vice principal wants to see and pushes me to work harder for them." Jandoli feels that the staff has welcomed him with open arms and kids are starting to get to know who he really is and they seem to enjoy it. Although it may be a new location for Jandoli, he doesn’t feel new here. “You know you found the right job when it feels like you’ve worked here forever,” he said.
Hearing students' opinions and ideas is very important for Jandoli; being involved in student council meetings and talking to individual students are simple things he makes sure to do to stay involved and hear the voices of students. “If you aren’t willing to listen to students, it's going to be a tough year because students work more efficiently as a team together,” Jandoli said.
One of the most important things Jandoli wants is for students to have a similar experience to what he had in high school. He made so many memories and looked forward to having a blast everyday. He still comes to high school many years later with that same energy and gets to the NHS at 6:30 (without coffee surprisingly) with great energy and enthusiasm. He understands that teenagers are most likely going to paint outside the lines which is a part of them genuinely loving high school. Jandoli says, “This is the students’ building; I’m just fortunate to work in it.” He believes the energy that the senior class brings each year is what guides the rest of the school which is why it's so important for students to love their school and be proud to be a raider. He hopes for graduation to be a bittersweet moment for the seniors.
Jandoli believes that his motivation to come to work everyday and do his best is he three young sons that are waiting for him at home. It's important for him to create a school that he would be proud to send his kids to, and wants them to be proud to call him their dad. Jandoli relates his parenting style to his teaching style working as an administrator: “I lay down the law when I have to, but I’m always open for a good laugh,” which is a balance that creates a healthy environment for students.
Principal Denis Williams had concerns about a new principal this year after Devore left for her new position. Williams, who has been in his position for ten years, said that he always asks himself, “Did we make the right decision?” In the case with Jandoli, he knows they made the right decision. Heading into the school year Williams advised Jandoli to, “Be yourself. You have to bring what's you; don't try to replicate what's before you,” which is advice he would also give to students for the real world. He said that Jandoli brings a fresh perspective and new energy to the NHS because he can suggest certain things that he has had exposure to while working in both private and public schools. According to Williams, Jandoli has helped both Williams and Vice Principal Joe Materia keep focused on things, which is something that is very difficult in education because there's so many things coming at them at once as administrators.