Principal Retiring After 40 Years In Wayne

Mary Jane Tierney started teaching in Wayne in 1966. She's held multiple administrative positions in the Wayne Public School District. Pines Lake was honored as one of 13 outstanding elementary schools during her time as principal.

Mary Jane Tierney is retiring after more than 40 years working in the Wayne Public School System.

“It has been such a privilege to work with the students of this district,” Tierney said. “There are so many opportunities available for educators here. It’s really been a wonderful place to work.”

Tierney is one of four principals at the end of the school year. The other three are , Stella Cosmas, and Scot Beckerman of , , and , respectively.

Tierney's last day is July 31.

The George Washington Middle School principal has held multiple administrative positions in the district. She started working in Wayne in 1966 teaching French at Wayne Valley High School. She taught French and Spanish at Wayne Hills High School for 18 years beginning in 1973.

She then became assistant principal of . She joined what was then a new administrative internship program. She worked with the assistant principal and learned about the duties the person performed and skills like how to create a master schedule.

“I remember many questions were asked prior to me being appointed to whether or not a woman could do that job,” Tierney said. “There were questions as to whether or not a woman could handle issues with boys who were big and tall. Could you handle breaking up a fight between boys?”

She said that in the end, the concerns were moot.

“I handled every situation in the school just like my male counterpart and we collaborated very well together,” Tierney said.

She remained in that role until 1996 when she became the principal of Pines Lake Elementary School. Elementary school principals are often the only administrators in their building and often have a very small support staff.

“It can be a very solitary experience however, it is wonderful to have such a dynamic impact on teaching and learning,” Tierney said.

The school was named one of 13 outstanding elementary schools in the state by New Jersey Monthly magazine. The publication noted that the extensive level of parental involvement at the school, something Tierney wholeheartedly encouraged. She became principal of George Washington in 2004.

She said teaching middle school-aged students is a challenge because they tend to have short attention spans, about 10 to 15 minutes, so lessons are very active and hands-on, something that she believes is simply just a necessary characteristic of good teaching.

“You need to have a lot of active learning during your lessons,” Tierney said. “It is necessary to engage your students throughout the period.”

Technology’s role in the learning process has increased throughout Tierney’s time at the school.

“We are preparing students for a world we do not presently live in so we are attempting to incorporate technological tools that will allow the students to be successful in the world they will live in,” Tierney said.

Tierney said that teaching is a very rewarding profession.

“There’s nothing that can possibly compare. Students show their appreciation for everything that you do for them,” Tierney said. “You feel like you’re making a contribution to society and to the community. There is no job more satisfying job than being a teacher.”

Nose Wayne May 12, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Mary Jane, Enjoy your retirement. You really left your mark.NOSE you from Wayne Hills spanish class.You will be missed!
packamom May 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I have only had the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Tierney for a year, but in that time she helped my middle schooler have a wonderful experience at GW. I wish her all the best in her retirement. She will be a tough act to follow.
Cathy Kazan May 12, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Mrs. Tierney, you will be missed. I remember being a new mom at GW the year you took over after the unfortunate incident with the former principal, and during record overcrowding at the school. It couldn't have been a smoother transition. The three years I spent there working with you while on the PTO Board were a pleasure. I hope you enjoy your retirement. You've certainly earned it. I can only hope we go back to the days when we promoted from within under such programs as the administrative internship you spoke about. You were certainly a great example of the benefits of such an initiative. All the best to you.
Pad May 12, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Congratulations on your retirement. I have to say even though I am a critic if the Wayne BOE I have alot of respect for someone who comes up thru the ranks the old fashion way. Starting at the bottom and working your way up. I am not a fan of administrators being brought in from other districts. They have no real loyalty to Wayne Township or its children. "Have a Happy & Healthy Retirement". You deserve it.
Ruby Stanfield May 13, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Mrs. Tierney, Good Luck to you as you move on to a new stage of your life. I have a lot of great memories at GWMS being on the PTO and had a lot of fun with you on the Washington DC Trips. Take care and all the best! Ruby:)
Rex miatke May 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Very hard shoes to fill. My son was at Pines Lake when she was there. She was a wonderful principal. She was in Wayne for 40 years. I agree with Pad. How can you bring someone in from a different district to take over as principal. Will be interesting to see who is put in to replace a person who was in the WAYNE school district for 40 years. Mrs Tierney you will be truly missed.
Nose Wayne May 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Rex, We need to HIRE somebody that's" BEEN THEIR AND DUN THAT"! HIRE WITHIN!


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