Image of Haddonfield Memorial High School courtesy of Haddonfield Public Schools
By CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
HADDONFIELD — On Friday (July 1) two African Americans will officially take on new administrative positions in the Haddonfield Public Schools, dramatically raising the profile of Black leadership in the school district.
Hamisi Tarrant will start his first day as principal of Haddonfield Middle School after working as an administrator at Haddonfield Memorial High School. Donnetta Beatty will also begin her tenure as principal at J. Fithian Tatem Elementary School.
Tarrant said while they are not the first blacks to serve as principals in Haddonfield, whose student population is 87% White and 1.5% Black, he believes their presence will make a statement about inclusiveness, diversity and equality.
“I am not the first Black principal in Haddonfield, but I am honored to have the privilege to lead HMS. Just my hire continues to broaden the districts in diversity and inclusion,” Tarrant told Front Runner New Jersey.
“At times, people perceive we were hired strictly because we are Black. But I compliment the district on getting more Black candidates to apply, hence increasing black education leaders. More work needs to be done, but we are making strides in the right direction.”
Tarrant said what he brings to the position is his perspective on leadership and spirit of collaboration. He said one of his major goals will be to make sure his staff continues to grow as professionals.
“I inherited an outstanding staff from former principal Tracy Matozoaa who led them for five years,” Tarrant said. “However, post-COVID, we have seen a rise in student misconduct across the state, including HMS.
“I hope to set high expectations of who we are as a community of learners.”
Tarrant has worked in education for 18 years, mostly in various Cherry Hill Public Schools, including the head basketball coach at Cherry Hill West. He served as a health and physical education teacher, coach and professional learning community leader. Before starting his new job, he had served as dean of students at Haddonfield High School since 2019.
“During my tenure at HMHS, I have led our science, counseling, world languages, PE, and 21st-Century Learning departments,” Tarrant said in a letter to the middle school staff. “I also oversaw discipline, attendance and 504 accommodations.
“My goal as an educator is always to connect with students and staff to ensure excellence at all levels. Additionally, I am a huge proponent of supporting the mental health of all members of our school community and teaching skills that help us deal with stress.”
Beatty will serve as the first African American principal at Tatem Elementary School.
“It is an honor and a privilege to hold this position and I do not take it lightly,” Beatty told Front Runner New Jersey. “Being the first to do something brings great joy and responsibility. Good or bad, everyone will always remember the first.
“So, I am excited to forge a positive path and lay the groundwork upon which others can follow. Opening doors and providing opportunities are very important to me.”
Beatty said it is an honor and a responsibility to be a positive role model for young people and help shape their lives.
“It is human nature to look to others to show us the way, and how it’s done,” Beatty said. “A path in the forest makes finding your way through the dense trees easier. Naturally, representation matters. When you see someone who looks like you, especially in positions not typically dominated by BIPOCs, it strengthens your belief that if they could do it, so can I.
“This inspires replication of the achievement. Moreover, as W.E.B. Du Bois espoused, it is the responsibility of the Talented Tenth to dedicate themselves to ‘leavening the lump’ and ‘inspiring the masses.'”
Beatty said as Tatem’s principal, she hopes to aspire to be a leader that inspires her staff to “become dynamic educational leaders who willingly participate in the collaborative process of moving our school and the students we serve forward to even bigger and better things.”
“I want all the Tatem Tigers to eagerly come to school each day ready and excited to learn new things and to leave enthused about all that they did and discussed in class,” Beatty continued. “This comes from fostering a warm, inviting, and safe space in which the staff and students can be their best version of themselves and learn unencumbered.”
She said education (in addition to family and God) has served as a guiding light in her life.
“My life’s purpose is to help provide a solid educational foundation (through knowledge, understanding, and application) upon which others can build a life of meaning and thus find success,” Beatty said.
Beatty has worked in the elementary school setting for 11 of her 18 years in education. She also spent four years as a vice principal at Timber Creek Regional High School in Sicklerville.
“[I watched] my class of 2019 enter as freshmen and mature into seniors,” Beatty said. “After their graduation, I remained in the Black Horse Pike Regional School District but transitioned to Central Administration as the supervisor of teaching and learning and the supervisor of ELL and student success coaches.”
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