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 3007
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. Peter Kassalow, Assistant Principal
p: (973) 378 - 7660 ext 3008
Peter Kassalow is an assistant principal at Maplewood Middle School (MMS). Kassalow completed his student teaching at Delia Bolden Elementary School before teaching mathematics at Warren Middle School. Since Fall 2022, he has taught special education at MMS, and he has completed the District’s Aspiring Leaders program.
Kassalow is an alumnus of Rutgers University where he completed his undergraduate degree in psychology in 2009, and his master’s degree in elementary education and special education. He earned his educational leadership certification at The College of New Jersey.
Kassalow, his wife, Christa, and two children, Emory and Quinn, are Maplewood residents. Mr. Kassalow grew up in Livingston, New Jersey where he attended Heritage Middle School, and his favorite subject was mathematics.