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Highland Elementary School Welcomes New Assistant Principal

Highland Elementary School (HES) has welcomed a new assistant principal, just in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Tulani Samuel, who officially began on September 1, replaces Matthew Darling, who has become the building’s new principal.

Samuel, a Wappingers Falls resident, brings decades of experience to her new role. After working in daycares for several years, she transitioned to New York City (NYC) public schools, teaching students in Kindergarten through Grade 3. Before long, she began taking on more leadership roles, working as a school-based new teacher mentor, principal’s apprentice, and adjunct professor. Most recently, she served as the assistant principal for all five sites of NYC’s Rose Hill Pre-K Center.
When reflecting on what drew her to apply for the position in Highland, Samuel—who recently moved to the Hudson Valley—said she was looking to lend her experience and expertise in early childhood education to a larger school community that serves students in K-5.

“I also wanted to expand my influence as a school building leader to help the children and families in Highland,” she said.
Getting to know students, staff, and community members is among Samuel’s top priorities. “I am looking forward to forming new relationships with colleagues, getting to know students, and building a rapport with parents,” she said.
The new AP also expects to face some challenges in the upcoming school year, the biggest being the ongoing pandemic. “My role will be to help alleviate parents’ worries surrounding COVID,” she said. “We will pull together as a school community to follow health and safety guidelines and prioritize the well-being of our students and staff.”

Samuel holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Organizational Behavior from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business; a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College; and a master’s in education degree in School District Leadership from Baruch College.
Even though she has only been with the school district a short time, Samuel said she has already had the chance to meet several members of the Highland community and has been touched by everyone’s kindness.

“The Highland Central School District and the Elementary School has given me the warmest welcome,” she said. “This is a new beginning. I feel honored and excited to be here, especially as the students return for in-person instruction.”