Morristown, N.J. (February 26, 2016) – Vincent S. Przybylinski, Jr. loves his job as a high school principal. The Wayne, N.J. resident has been the principal at Pompton Lakes High school for the past 11 years and is part of the 2013 Ed.D. cohort preparing to graduate in May, 2016.
"I have thoroughly appreciated every aspect of the doctoral journey at the College of Saint Elizabeth," says Przybylinski. "The program at CSE continuously challenged me to reflect and build upon my practice and role as a servant leader. I was fortunate to progress through the program with a cohort of exemplary educators and benefit from the expertise and experience of highly accomplished professors. In the end, I am grateful and proud to have completed my doctoral studies at CSE."
Przybylinski, as a Notre Dame-educated mechanical engineer with a job in aerospace took a non-traditional route to become a high school principal with a doctorate in Educational Leadership.
"I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach," Przybylinski explains. "I was extremely good at math in school and steered towards engineering because I was told that teaching was not a lucrative profession."
The allure of the teaching profession continued to pull at him. He discovered the favorite part of his engineering job was holding classes and training others in statistics. While earning a Master of Business Administration in quantitative analysis from Seton Hall University and completing additional graduate coursework at Montclair State University, Przybylinski was offered a job as a math teacher at his alma mater, West Essex Senior High School in North Caldwell, N.J., in 1995.
"I left my job in aerospace and five days later I was prepping my new classroom," he recalls.
From there he taught mathematics and completed an administrative internship at Kinnelon High School. Subsequently, he became an assistant principal at Parsippany High School.
Following three years as an assistant principal, Przybylinski was appointed as the principal of Waldwick High School. From there he landed in Pompton Lakes, where, he says, "I am in my dream job!"
Przybylinski not only likes his students, but he respects them as individuals. His dissertation topic was inspired by a student in his school who had learning disabilities and was not given much incentive do better academically. During his childhood, expectations had been kept low and his disability became his identity. Przybylinski saw past the disability and identified a bright young man who simply needed to be encouraged and taught differently. Taking him under his wing, Przybylinski raised the bar and helped the student succeed by increasing his math HSPA scores by 25 percent.
"Students want to excel and achieve; they need support and encouragement from trusted adults who will raise expectations then help the student reach them," he counsels. "I knew about math, but I really didn’t know about learning disabilities; my dissertation helped me marry the two subjects."
His dissertation, titled, The Impact of Higher Expectations in Math on the Perception of Achievement of High School Students with Disabilities, explored the mathematics achievement gap between general education students and students with disabilities. The study was intended to assess the effectiveness of the changes to the mathematics program and help enhance instruction, collaboration, and structures to boost the achievement of students with disabilities.
Analysis of the data revealed that students with disabilities gain from a rigorous and comprehensive college-prep algebra program, accommodations and supports which afford them additional time in mathematics, and the confidence others show toward them. The results of the study will fuel strategies to further enhance a school's mathematics program and close the achievement gap between general education students and students with disabilities.