The Montclair Board of Education filled two open principal positions Tuesday night by promoting assistant principals in the district.
The board approved Montclair Public Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack’s recommendations to appoint Cenithia Bilal as principal of Northeast Elementary School and Jill McLaughlin as principal of Nishuane Elementary School.
The announcements drew rounds of applause from the public, which consisted largely of teachers wearing their blue Montclair Education Association union t-shirts.
Bilal has worked in education for 31 years, 20 years with Montclair Public Schools, MacCormack said. Her leadership roles in the district include assistant principal at Glenfield Middle School, Interim Principal at Glenfield and assistant principal at Nishuane.
"I would just like to say thank you to the board for your confidence, and all the parents who have supported me in the past and that are supporting me now, and recognizing me for this position," Bilal said after the 5-0 board vote.
Bilal has also served as the Coordinator of Language Arts K-8 in the district’s Department of Instruction and as a member of the District Evaluation Advisory Committee.
Her teaching career began at Watchung Elementary School, where she was a third and fifth grade teacher, math coach, and testing coordinator. While at Watchung, Bilal was recognized as the Montclair and Essex County Teacher of the Year.
Bilal taught in the East Orange and Newark Public Schools prior to coming to Montclair. She has a bachelor’s in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Seton Hall University and a master’s in Educational Leadership/Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University.
McLaughlin, who steps up from the assistant principal position at Nishuane, has been serving as the interim principal of the school since her predecessor Gail Clarke was promoted to Chief Academic Officer over the summer.
"I feel like this is my home. Until now I've been maybe two, three years at a job. But something about Nishuane makes me never want to leave," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin has worked at Nishuane for eight years, serving as a first grade teacher for five years before becoming an administrator.
Before coming to Montclair, McLaughlin was an education policy analyst at a New Jersey-based advocacy group for children and families. She also taught as a Teach for America corps member in South Central Los Angeles, and at a bilingual elementary school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She has a bachelor’s from Villanova University and two master’s degrees: Politics and Education from Columbia University and Educational Leadership from Caldwell College.