Principal Linda Rocco is retiring to spend more time with her family and to travel.
Rocco, 58, of Spring Lake Heights, has four grown children, including a daughter living in London and another in San Francisco.
She wants to see them all a lot more often and she's eligible to retire, so, she decided it's time to leave the public high school where she has been principal since 2007.
"I have been in education since 1976, the year I graduated Montclair State, so the reason I am retiring is because I can!" said Rocco in an email Wednesday morning.
"I love my job and have enjoyed working in the Point Pleasant School District, but I want to spend more time with my family."
Rocco has a third daughter, who lives in New Jersey, and a son living in the state as well, who is getting married in August. She said she is looking forward to "fun and travel" and more time with family.
Schools Superintendent Vincent Smith said the district is conducting a state-wide search for a replacement.
Rocco, who has worked for the Borough school district for the past 13 years, said in a prepared statement:
“I have been so blessed to have been a part of such an amazing school district. My experiences with Point Pleasant Borough Schools’ students and staff, and the personal and professional support I have received over the years, have been affirming,” she said.
“As an educator, the goal is always to make a positive impact in the lives of the students whose care you have been entrusted. As an administrator, I have always encouraged my staff to reflect on their teaching experiences, challenging them to strive for meaningful connections both professionally and in their classrooms.
“I am both humbled and awed by the experiences that have provided me with the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives on a larger scale, and for that I will be eternally grateful," Rocco said.
Rocco’s career has been one of "firsts," says the prepared statement. "Her teaching career gave rise to a lengthy turn as an Athletic Director, the first woman to hold the position at Morris County’s Whippany Park High School, a distinction she repeated at Howell High School, before being named Assistant Principal at East Brunswick High School."
In November of 1999, Ms. Rocco became the first female assistant principal of Point Pleasant Borough High School, working with Principal John Staryak until 2004, when, another first, she was named the first woman to hold the position of principal at where she remained until 2007.
On September 1, 2007, Rocco rejoined the ranks of the Borough High School’s administration, succeeding Staryak, upon his retirement, to become the school’s first female principal.
Smith said, “As an integral member of Point Pleasant Borough Schools’ Administration, Ms. Rocco has faithfully and dutifully served the children of Point Pleasant Borough for 13 years, guided by the fundamental principle of putting their needs first."
“I truly wish Ms. Rocco the best in her retirement,” said Smith. “After nearly four decades as an educator, she has earned a long and happy retirement. Although her presence will certainly be missed at the high school, we must remain focused on the future and the continued needs of our students.”
Nellie F. Bennett Elementary School Principal Jim Karaba, who served as assistant principal when Rocco was principal there, said, “Ms. Rocco approached her role as principal with equal parts determination and dedication, working in the best interests of the students, faculty and staff. Many of the policies and procedures she helped to establish at Nellie Bennett are still in practice, a testament to her attention to detail and her commitment to the school.”
High School Assistant Principal Jacquelyn Moore, who has worked alongside Rocco as a teacher, a co-assistant principal, and a member of the administrative team under Rocco, also weighed in on her influence, stating, “Over the past several years, Ms. Rocco has worked in a truly collaborative fashion, uniting the staff and students with an educational vision focused on academic achievement.
“Her shared knowledge and experience has been a tremendous asset to the entire educational team at Point Pleasant Borough High School,” said Moore. “It has been my pleasure to work with Ms. Rocco. She was my mentor when I first became a vice principal and, as principal, she has fostered a supportive and productive environment conducive to professional growth.”
The district's prepared statement cites the following as the primary accomplishments of Rocco and the administrative and teaching staff she worked with while high school principal: "Over the past four school years, students attending the Borough High School have experienced unprecedented educational and co-curricular achievement stemming from a number of transformative initiatives.
"Among them have been: substantial growth to High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) scores, the result of a targeted initiative to align classroom content with subject matter from the standardized assessment; increased opportunities offered by a more comprehensive selection of Advanced Placement and Honors courses, complemented with strategic additions to elective courses; enhanced access to relevant technology; and improvements to the overall school climate, due to the implementation of a proactive character education and anti-bullying initiative, that has served as a model for school districts across the state.
"The common denominator in each of these experiences has been an outstanding team of education professionals, unified by the shared goal of delivering the best possible educational experience to the children of Point Pleasant Borough, a goal that has been met with increasing frequency due to the leadership and oversight provided by Ms. Rocco."