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Kean University

Kean Graduate, a School Principal, Boosts Student Performance

Tomeeko Hunt, a Black woman in a green floral dress, smiles as she stands next to an Inspire Awards Congratulations banner.

Tomeeko Hunt ’04 M.A. has a dynamic philosophy as principal of Leonard V. Moore Middle School in Roselle: think innovatively, decide boldly and act quickly.

The career educator, who earned a master’s in educational administration from Kean in 2004, believes that’s the best way to meet the ever-changing needs of students — and to seize life’s opportunities.

“As a new principal here two years ago, I told teachers I would never ask them to do anything I hadn’t tried or wasn’t willing to do with them,” said Hunt, who has established national student council, music and honor society chapters in Roselle and sent students to a Johns Hopkins University summer program. “I asked them to think outside the box with me, and if I jumped, to jump with me, because if they didn't, we'd be talking about what we could have or should have done.”

Hunt has spent 26 years improving student and school performance across several districts, in roles ranging from Title I supervisor to assistant principal. Formerly principal at Roselle’s Grace Wilday Junior High School, she was moved to Leonard V. Moore to boost academics, climate and culture.

For her leadership in the 2022-2023 school year, Hunt was recognized with the national Inspire Award by Curriculum Associates, creator of the i-Ready platform for literacy, math and assessment.

“We were able to improve overall scores on math and English language arts i-Ready diagnostic assessments by 170%,” said Hunt, who noted that the award has led to speaking engagements, enabling her to be a model for other educators. “All my students were able to move at least one to two grade levels above where they started.”

Sancha K. Gray, Ed.D, Kean’s senior vice president of entrepreneurial education initiatives (EEI), said she appreciates Hunt’s work to incorporate Roselle’s high school into the Kean Scholar Academy, a dual credit program that allows students to earn college credits while simultaneously working toward their high school diploma.

“Tomeeko is a dedicated, seasoned educator who puts students first and creates innovative programming that provides multiple pathways for high school diploma completion and beyond, especially for Black and brown children in poverty,” said Gray, who volunteers with Hunt through the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. “Through Kean’s Division of EEI, we look to support innovative educators in furtherance of positive outcomes for all learners.”

Growing up in East Orange, Hunt said her mother encouraged her to explore the world beyond her hometown. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from Morgan State University in Baltimore, traveling the world as part of its historically Black college choir.

Returning to East Orange to teach, Hunt was soon encouraged by her principal to become an administrator. She studied at Kean because it provided onsite instruction in her district, where groups of teachers were pursuing degrees.

Hunt recalled how tiring it was to take classes after a long day at school, especially because she was simultaneously pursuing a certificate in middle-school math from Montclair State University. But she appreciated the practical approach her Kean professors brought to their lessons, which prepared her to apply what she had learned. 

Her expertise has impressed Roselle Schools Superintendent Nathan L. Fisher, Ed.D.

"Tomeeko's core focus is on fostering a dynamic learning environment,” he said. “She leverages her experience as an innovator to elevate a culture of continuous improvement, prioritizing the amplification of learning opportunities while ensuring that every scholar within her school has the resources and support to reach their full potential."

Looking back on her career, Hunt said she grows by taking ownership of any setbacks. She also cherishes her achievements, which she can measure through the impact on her students.

“Often my former students reach out with a ‘thank you,’ and that keeps me going,” Hunt said. “It reminds me why I do this.”