New principal aims to create a spirited school environment

Glen Rock's new middle and high school principal, Dr. Michael Parent.

Glen Rock’s new middle and high school principal, Dr. Michael Parent.

by Yethmie Goonatilleke, Social Media Manager (Twitter)

Dr. Michael Parent has had ample experience in running a school as principal — for the past 13 years he has assumed that role. In a time filled with unprecedented events, Parent decided to take on a new challenge. As of July 2020, Parent undertook the position of principal of both the high school and middle school.

Previously working at Dumont High School and Passaic County Technical Institute, Parent was well aware of schooling in North Jersey and admired Glen Rock from afar.

“I always saw Glen Rock as a different type of school and community where I knew it was high pressure. I knew the students were very ambitious and after many years of learning and working in different types of communities, I was ready for the challenge to come to a high performing district like Glen Rock,” Parent said.

Growing up in a small town in South Jersey, Parent was surprisingly not the type of diligent student one might expect an experienced principal to be. 

“I had exactly a 2.0 GPA. I wasn’t a very good student but nonetheless, I loved learning,” he explained.

Despite his moderate work ethic in high school, Parent eventually progressed to the principal position through hard work. Parent attended Ocean County College for a year and a half before transferring to William Paterson University where he obtained a degree in English literature and minored in journalism. After college, Parent went into teaching and because of a certain principal who mentored him, Parent was encouraged to complete a master’s degree in administration. After about six years of teaching, Parent went to Montclair State University to complete this degree and finally, he did what he considered impossible at one point in his life: complete a doctorate degree.

“Coming as a terrible high school student, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it so I went to university. It took a long time as I took time off, but I finished my doctorate at Seton Hall University.”

Parent started out as a teacher after college, working his way up from supervisor to assistant principal and finally principal. While Parent still loves teaching, he was always drawn to the administrative aspects of school. 

“I got out of the classroom because I was very antsy, like I wanted to do more and more. I love teaching literature and Shakespeare, but I always kept thinking about the ways that a school could be more engaging for students,” Parent said. 

As a principal, Parent has learned over the years to be tenacious, empathetic, and patient. To him, facing obstacles up front firmly is crucial to leading. Understanding that everyone has respective visions and their own struggles is something he has picked up; being patient and pacing things out is important. It’s always a reflecting process for Parent on what he can do better as principal, but he lives by his own golden rule that every decision he makes has to have a benefit for one group or the other.

In terms of goals for Glen Rock, what Parent really wants to accomplish is a more enjoyable school experience for everyone involved. Building relationships is something that Parent aims to achieve, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered this, he hopes to build bonds with teachers and students. 

“I actually have grown more involved with students as a principal because I choose to. I could sit in the office and just do paperwork and play on spreadsheets all day, but that’s not what the job is. The job is about the students and the teachers and it is about putting out fires and solving little problems.”

Besides administration, Parent enjoys many free time activities and uses them as creative outlets. Since he was 10, he has played the drums and currently plays in a band. He is an avid reader of history and journalism and enjoys cooking and spending time with his family.

Moving forward, Parent also hopes to align the high school and middle school on the same schedule, allowing the schools to share resources such as personnel and creating one cohesive faculty. He also hopes to bring some more career elective programs to the school, ensuring that by the end of senior year, students graduate with an in-depth knowledge of a career field they may be interested in. Ultimately, Parent wants to provide for students an outlet for a much more “spirited campus” where everyone can enjoy the school experience more and limit stress.