After years of service to the district, Bonnie Lehet prepares to retire

After serving in the district for 16 years, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Bonnie Lehet will retire at the start of 2017.

Lehet has spent her time in the Princeton Public Schools District contributing to the creation and enhancement of various programs, including devoting time to student achievement of higher education and collaborating with fellow educators involved in supporting students.

Since joining the district in 2001, Lehet believes that her most notable contribution was helping to reform the leveling system of math courses at the elementary and middle school level while she was the math supervisor.

Originally, there were three levels of math provided at JWMS. In combination, these were not enough to enable students to finish Algebra I by the end of middle school. Lehet worked with surrounding school districts along with other JWMS educators to change the structure of the classes to allow more kids to reach calculus by the end of high school.

Furthermore, Lehet has worked on the Rubicon Atlas System, a system that allows for curriculum mapping for supervisors and administrators.

“In my current role, [the district] did not have a curriculum platform. It used to be that the curriculum was on pieces of paper that might not have made it into the classroom easily. We now have a software tool where all of our curriculum is piled, which is a new way of managing [the] curriculum so that it can be found more easily and updated,” Lehet said.

Some of Lehet’s more recent contributions include implementing the new Haiku Learning system (formally known as PowerSchool Learning), enhancing PowerSchool, and working on the district’s achievement gap program, a part of the 2015–2020 strategic action plan.

Lehet first pursued her education with a degree in computer science at Rutgers University.

“My original intention was not to go into education. As a computer science major, I thought I would be doing something completely different, and I landed in a hole teaching computer science. So that was my beginning in education,” she wrote in an email.

As Lehet has been able to work on numerous programs and district projects, she has also had the opportunity to further her education at Columbia University.

“I was able to finally complete my doctorate in Mathematics Education at the Teachers College at Columbia University … my work at [Teachers College] was certainly influenced by the many talented teachers in our district,” wrote Lehet.

Along that line, Lehet views her experience at PPS as intense but also gratifying due to the people she got to work alongside each day.

“Our teachers, administrators, and support staff are truly dedicated and creative people who are focused on supporting the students in our schools. I have truly learned a lot from so many of these individuals and have tremendous gratitude for all that they do each day,” Lehet wrote.

According to Lehet, the most memorable experience for her was the opportunity to watch students develop.

“I remember a fifth grader who performed at her moving-on ceremony and, years later, I was able to see her perform in Studio Band. I remember a student who stood out at his eighth grade promotion ceremony and later starred in many musicals and drama productions at PHS,” Lehet wrote. “I have a long list of students who I will always remember for their contributions in academics, athletics, arts, community service, and as people overall. The incredible thing about the students in the PPS system is that they are working to make the world a better place.”

Lehet also reflected on the impact her work might have on the district.

I don’t know what legacy I will leave behind but what I would hope to leave behind would be one of kindness,” she said. “I would hope that when people think of me they think of kindness and treating others well moving forward, and to build relationships with each other in a positive way.”

Moreover, her colleagues point out the significant mark she will leave behind.

“It’s quite a legacy when you’re talking about 16 years both working with teachers and programs for students and policies that the district has carried forward throughout four superintendents through the years,” said Lewis Goldstein, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Public Information, and Community Relations.

Goldstein has also acknowledged Lehet’s continual dedication.

“She was always willing to go the extra mile to help anybody out … I will miss her kindness and her ability to not realize that it’s time to go home sometimes; she works very late and sometimes we have to tell her go home,” Goldstein said. “She cares deeply about education as well as the teachers and the students that are in the classrooms.”

Despite her absence, Lehet still hopes to keep up with district news and updates on recent programs, such as the dual language immersion program. Moreover, Lehet hopes to keep in touch with the district staff whom she has been able to work with for the past years.

As Lehet enters her retirement, she is interested in catching up in her personal life and also continuing to work towards a cause she is passionate about. Lehet has not decided on any specifics yet and is still considering multiple options.

“The way that I’m looking at my retirement right now is as a blank canvas. Meaning, there’s lots of possibilities in the blank canvas ahead. One of the things I hope to do is really help people. I need to help people that are most needy in the world. I hope to probably do something probably on a volunteer basis with that,” she said.

Before deciding on concrete future plans, Lehet will first take time to simply decompress.

“I just don’t know what [I’ll be doing] because I will probably need to take some time to start again and relax a little bit before I can come up with any decisions about [future opportunities].” Lehet said.

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