Ms. Dara Gronau
p: (973) 378 - 7660 ext 3001
Principal Dara Crocker Gronau is a proud South Orange-Maplewood alumna (CHS 1998). Her Columbia High School teachers nurtured her interest in English Language Arts. Under the leadership of legendary coach Leonard Klepack she earned All-County, All-State and All-American Honors in Track and Field. In May of 2014 and 2016 she was inducted into the Columbia High School Athletics Hall of Fame. Athletics taught her the importance of collaboration, discipline and perseverance. She credits athletics as the first step in her path to leadership.
Her success as a student-athlete afforded her a track and field scholarship and excellent education from Vanderbilt University. There, she earned a dual degree in English and Psychology. Upon graduation, she became a Teach for America corps member and taught all levels of English grades 9-12 inclusion, general education, and Advanced Placement English at Science High School in Newark, NJ from 2002-2008.
While teaching, a mentor encouraged her to expand her impact by becoming a school leader. She turned to Teach for America to hone her leadership skills by serving on Teach for America Summer Institute staff. She was a Corps Member Advisor and School Director for three consecutive summers. She learned many best practices for supporting teachers new to the profession and providing meaningful feedback to teachers across all content areas.
Dara earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Montclair State University in 2008. Upon completion of her degree, she applied to and gained entry into New Leaders for New Schools (now known as New Leaders). For a full year, she studied and applied school leadership best practices as a resident principal at a middle school in Newark, NJ. She traveled to cities across the country to learn from high performing school leaders in preparation for serving as a school leader.
Dara’s first full time role in administration was Vice Principal of West Side Academy in Newark Public Schools. Two years later she was promoted as the principal of West Side High School. There she focused on fostering teacher leadership and teacher teams, personalizing the large high school experience for students, and improving student achievement and school culture metrics.
Most recently, Dara served as the K-12 district English Language Arts Supervisor for Ridgewood Public Schools. She supervised Middle School and High School teachers in two middle schools and one high school. This role refined her skills in articulating the skills needed in English Language Arts for all grade levels.
In August 2016 she had the privilege of returning home to serve the community of South-Orange Maplewood School District as the principal of Maplewood Middle School.
Mr. Louis Brown
p: (973) 378 - 7660 ext 3008
Assistant Principal Louis E. Brown has been working in the South Orange Maplewood School District since September 1990. Previously, Mr. Brown attended Teachers College Columbia University where he earned his MA in the Teaching of Social Studies. Mr. Brown taught in the Social Studies department from 1990 until 1996. In addition to being the social studies teacher in the Alternative Program for the at-risk population, Louis taught Economics, Sociology, US History, and AP US History. Concurrent to his teaching, Mr. Brown successfully coached the Columbia High School swim team to 2 conference championships in the co-ed division.
In 1996, Mr. Brown became Dean of Students. He served in this capacity until September of 2000 when he left SOMSD to become Middle School Principal of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union. In September of 2002, Mr. Brown returned to the social studies classroom at Columbia High School until returning to the position of Dean of Students the following school year. In March of 2006, after completing his MA in Administration at Montclair State University, Mr. Brown became Assistant Principal of Maplewood Middle School.
Mr. Russell King
p: (973) 378 - 7660 ext 3007
Russell King is a proud alumnus of Patchogue-Medford HS in Long Island, New York. Throughout his time as a student in the Patchogue-Medford School district, Russell competed in a variety of sports including football, basketball and lacrosse. His success as a student-athlete provided him with the opportunity to play men’s lacrosse at Kean University where he was a 2x All-Conference Defensemen and Student Scholar-Athlete. In 2014, he graduated from Kean University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History Education (K-12). His time at Kean University taught him the importance of discipline, teamwork, perseverance and the power of relationships.
King began his teaching career at Kawameeh Middle in the Township of Union Public School District as an 8th grade Social Studies Teacher. King has always enjoyed helping middle school students grow and become ready for high school and beyond. His passion for learning, coaching, and mentoring others led him to return to Kean University to earn his Master of Arts degree and a new leadership role as the Defensive Coordinator for the men's lacrosse program. He remained at the Kean University Nathan Weiss Graduate school where he received his M.A in Educational Leadership in 2018.
During his tenure in the Township of Union Public Schools, King could often be found working alongside colleagues to help advance endeavors in both academic and social-emotional learning. His dedication beyond the classroom extends to his service on committees including the School Culture/Climate Committee, District Comprehensive Equity Committee, District Security Committee, PBSIS Committee, Response to Intervention Committee (RtI), and School Improvement Panel (ScIP). His leadership roles in the district include his creation of the Future Leaders Team and serving as the Title I Coordinator.
Russell enjoys exercising, reading, playing golf, and looks forward to getting married in April 2021. He is honored by this tremendous opportunity to serve as Assistant Principal at Maplewood Middle School and looks forward to working alongside the outstanding staff and community in South Orange Maplewood School District.