IN THE NEWS
posted: Wed, Feb 18th, 2015
Meet our new assistant principal
Long-time industrial arts teacher Nick Cutro started his new position at the beginning of the school year
Nick Cutro, Mount Olive Middle School's new assistant principal, started his very first job when he was just 12. At Quick Christmas Tree Farm in Liberty Township, he was the guy who chopped down the tree you selected, dragged it down the mountain, baled it, and helped strap the thing to your car roof.
He did it for 10 straight years and over that time Little Nick became High School Nick became College Nick. It was a formative experience. It taught him the rewards of hard work, cemented his passion for being outdoors and working with his hands, and gave him the chance to discover his love of helping people.
That’s who Mr. Cutro is. He’s the cheerful carpenter friend who shows up at your front door ready to fix whatever just broke, he’s the neighbor who always has the right tool for the job, he’s the caring colleague that volunteers to pitch in without being asked.
Mr. Cutro spent much of his childhood in Liberty Township where his family had three acres of property. Instead of watching t.v. he was out building tree forts and catching frogs in the pond in the front yard. And taking apart the family lawn mower when he was eight. (Those things are always so much harder to re-assemble, aren’t they?)
He has spent his life being busy, that’s just the way he was brought up. While still in high school Mr. Cutro served as an umpire and basketball ref, and did a little coaching too. He pursued his affection for woodworking, inspired by his grandfather, and in college he volunteered his carpentry skills to build homes for Habitat For Humanity.
In the summers, he works at Camp Jotoni, a summer day camp in Somerset County for children and adults with developmental disabilities. There he directs the major repairs and maintenance projects, often with the help of the campers themselves.
The man clearly does not have an off button.
Before moving into his second floor office, Mr. Cutro taught industrial arts for the last 10 years at MOMS (and two years before that in Kittatinny).
“Teaching was a way for me to use something that I knew well to help kids,” Mr. Cutro said. “In Kittatinny, I had high school and middle school classes. I came to Mount Olive because I wanted to teach at the middle school level all the time. With this age group there is such an eagerness to learn and I knew I could tap into that energy. Over the years I’ve seen so many students who struggled academically come into the wood shop and thrive. They had found their niche and it made them experience a level of success that they may not have had before.”
Mr. Cutro credits his effectiveness in the classroom to a number of things, including his efforts to connect with students on a personal level. He’d attend their basketball games, for example, or take an interest in their hobbies and afterschool activities. Creating that bond, as well as setting the proper rules and high expectations, helped motivate students to do their very best.
Teacher Beth Cohen worked closely with Mr. Cutro for the past five years as coaches of the Science Olympiad and Technology Student Association teams. She considers the rapport that Mr. Cutro develops with students as one of the educator’s greatest strengths.
“It’s something that you can detect immediately when you watch him interact with kids,” Ms. Cohen said. “He gets back from them the same respect and high regard he gives them. He sees the unique potential in each student.”
Mr. Cutro considers this next step in his career as a way to have an impact on the school as a whole. That means working with teachers to inspire them to try new things and take creative risks in the classroom, and working with students.
“I’m going from classes of 25 to a school of 1,200,” said Mr. Cutro. “That’s an incredible opportunity to impact lives. I want kids that I see in the hall and that come into my office to know that I truly care about them as human beings. When they leave my office, I want them to leave with a positive feeling. The success of these students is the reason I get out of bed in the morning.”
Mr. Cutro holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts from County College of Morris, a bachelor’s in technology education from Montclair State University, and a master’s in educational leadership from Centenary College.
He’s married with a two-year-old daughter. In his spare time he enjoys working on projects in his home workshop, rooting for the Yankees, and taking his daughter to building and woodworking classes at Lowe’s and Home Depot. (Mr. Cutro had better keep the wrenches and lawn mower under lock and key. History, as we all know, has a way of repeating itself.)
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