“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most kids come to the first day of school feeling nervous because they have to meet a new teacher or take on harder material in class.

I, myself, was nervous for a whole different reason, and it wasn’t even close to the new school year yet.

I was approaching North Pocono Middle School as an interviewer, not as a student. I had to take more than a few deep breaths on the walk in. I was going to interview my new principal, Mr. Matt Montoro.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Francesca! Why are nervous?! It’s the middle of the summer! You shouldn’t be nervous at all!” I’ve interviewed a principal before, but one I knew.

Yes, sir, this was our new principal, and I wanted to make a good impression.

As soon as I started the interview, I felt a whole lot better for some reason.

I think it was either the fact that Mr. Montoro’s office was messy because of the move from the vice-principal’s office to the principal’s office, or how everything in the main office looked exactly the same as it did in the school year.

He has a calmness and strength about him and it put me at ease.

I entered Mr. Montoro’s office and sat down. I started the interview with, “Are you excited to be interviewed?”

Mr. Montoro smiled…it’s a kind smile.

“The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best you can become.”

-Harold Taylor

Mr. Montoro grew up in Minooka, Scranton, PA. He says his parents were always supportive and never really pressured him or his siblings. “… I mean, they would warn us that if we didn’t do something there would be consequences, but never tell you that you had to go do something,” he said. Sounds like a cool way to teach accountability.

He originally wanted to be a doctor and was doing well majoring in biology, but Mr. Montoro states, “I didn’t have the passion that I thought I would, so I did a major flop in the middle of college and switched to an English major.” Coming from a long line of teachers, this was the perfect fit for Mr. Montoro.

As he proceeded in his journey, Mr. Montoro worked at West Scranton High School for six years. Then, he went on to work at North Pocono High School as a Guidance Counselor.

“…I truly enjoyed my time as a Guidance Counselor, but when I was a counselor, I didn’t get to interact with students as much as I would’ve liked to… When I was a vice principal, although the students I dealt with weren’t on their best behavior, I still liked meeting with them and working with them. My philosophy wasn’t always to punish or be mean, which I think is sometimes how people think of principals, as strict and mean. I think my goal was to change their behavior.

“‘How can I help them not make that same mistake again, and look at the whole picture.’ I think especially at the middle school level, I can make a bigger difference in that age group,” he says.

Mr. Montoro looks forward to being able to work with the school’s existing teachers. He says that the middle school is already pretty great with a “fantastic foundation set by Mr. Bugno and the staff here.”

Mr. Montoro has some ideas to keep that environment going and moving forward. He wants the school to utilize technology a little more. Mr. Montoro wants to make sure the students are always ready for the next level and are good critical thinkers. “I look forward to working as a team with the staff,” he continued.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

-Michel Altzhuler

Although challenging yourself at work is great, you need to make time for fun! Mr. Montoro enjoys traveling a whole lot! This writer can’t argue with that! I love to travel.

One of his favorite places to be is Boston, Massachusetts. I was extremely happy to hear this because Boston is one of my favorite places to visit. He describes Boston as a “little big city”.

“I like that it has the right amount of city and history all mixed together and of course, the food.”

If you have never been to Boston, I’m just telling you now that you need to go. It is a really cool city with really cool history and things to do.

The ‘food’ he mentions is fantastic. My favorite place to eat in Boston is The North End.

I was also really happy to hear his next answer…He loves Barcelona!

Barcelona is in Spain, and it is also a really cool place to be.

My family goes to Europe every two years, and last time we went to Europe, we went to Barcelona. It is awesome!

Mr. Montoro says that he loves the culture, food, and art there. He also likes La Sagrada Familia, which is a Basilica designed by an architect, named, Antoni Gaudi.

They have been trying to build it since 1882 and they think it will be finished in about 2030. It can take a really long time to build something of that magnitude! It’s so beautiful and it’s something I will always remember seeing.

Mr. Montoro also likes to be outside in the summertime. He likes to swim, run, and garden. He runs a half marathon in the fall (I could never do that because I would be dead halfway through), and he is part of a community garden in Scranton.

The garden he participates in is a group of people with different ethnic backgrounds and he learns quite a bit from them. He really enjoys it.

And if you can tell from his answers he loves to eat new foods. In my family we have really great food to eat.

Whether it’s Italian or Dominican cuisine, it’s always yummy.

I realized my nerves were unnecessary. We had a few things in common and I think he will be a wonderful principal.

Mr. Montoro is determined to keep the tradition of excellence going at NPMS through hard work, collaboration, fairness and patience. What more could we ask for.

“Life is a journey, with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all experiences to enjoy.”

-unknown

So Mr. Montoro, your family and students are rooting for you! Here’s what your sister, Maria Montoro Edwards, said about your becoming a new principal, “I am so proud of him being appointed principal. He is very much a model of our father, as a person and principal. He has a peace and a centeredness that I envy.”

Mr. Montoro has a quiet strength, kind smile and a great laugh. I think my next two years will be fine.

Okay, you have one month to prepare for when school starts! We all wish you luck! Who knows, maybe I’ll be a principal or a marathon runner or a gardener someday, too!