At its public meeting on March 24, 2020, which was held remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Westfield Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Paul Duncan as principal of Franklin Elementary School in Westfield, effective July 1, 2020. Currently Duncan is assistant principal of Franklin, a position he has held since August 2017.
“I became an educator to make a difference in the world. Working at Franklin has allowed me to impact the daily lives of children and their families, while also helping them to build a better future,” says Duncan. “I pride myself on the relationships we forge while working together as a community. Each interaction is a chance to commit to our collective efforts and create a stronger community for our students to learn and grow.”
Duncan succeeds Dr. Eileen Cambria who is retiring as of June 30 after 25 years in the Westfield Public School District, 13 of those years as principal at Franklin.
Duncan came to Westfield from the Warren Township School District where he served as a summer school assistant principal and supervisor in 2017 and as a fourth and fifth grade teacher from September 2005 through June 2017. His journey in education began in 2000 teaching fourth grade in Chicago, followed by two years in Philadelphia elementary schools, also as a fourth grade teacher.
“Dr. Duncan brings nearly 20 years of superb educational knowledge to the role of principal at Franklin School. And, as Franklin’s assistant principal, he knows the school well,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “Dr. Duncan emerged as the clear choice during the search committee’s deliberations. I am certain that he will build on his successes as assistant principal to continue Franklin’s tradition of excellence.”
During his time in Westfield, Duncan helped to devise the Standards-Based Report Card, served as school testing coordinator, and collaborated with the school counselor, teachers, parents, Child Study Team members, and other key staff to tailor academic and behavioral supports to improve outcomes for at-risk students. He currently serves on the district’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Task Force and has been instrumental in pushing SEL initiatives to the forefront at Franklin.
“I feel fortunate that we will be building on a tradition of success. Franklin is already a special place. I’m excited about all that we are working on with social and emotional learning,” he says. “When combined with the rigor of our academic program, I feel that we are setting our students up for success in life. I’m looking forward to keeping that success going and adapting to the needs of our students.”
Duncan earned his doctorate in Education Leadership in 2015 at Rutgers University, writing his dissertation on A Program Evaluation for Technology Innovations. He earned a Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision of Education at Rutgers in 2010, preceded by a Master’s in Instructional Leadership in 1999 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Civilization.
In addition to Dr. Dolan and Human Resources Specialist Barbara Ball, the interview committee for the Franklin School principal position included a district principal and a supervisor, a Franklin teacher, a Board of Education member and a co-president of the Franklin PTO. Prior to the interviews, the process also included input from various Franklin stakeholders to collect their thoughts on the skills and attributes necessary for the position.
“Education is always about the students, their successes, and the teamwork that helps them to be successful,” Duncan says. “When we work together to help a child, or to help the school in general, I really feel we are making a difference in the world. We can help make our students’ lives better, help them reach their potential, and help them build their futures. I feel like we do a little bit of that at Franklin every day.”