Cara Hayden, currently the principal of Starlight Cove Elementary School in Lantana, will succeed Mario Crocetti as the new principal of Wellington High School early next year. Crocetti is set to retire in February 2018
Hayden, who has been an educator in the Palm Beach County School system since 2007, looks forward to entering into her new role at the high school, continuing to grow as an educator in her new position.
“I look forward to working closely with the community, with the parents and with the current faculty to make the best high school we possibly can in Wellington,” Hayden said. “I can’t wait to get my feet wet and just learn and grow and lead with the Wellington community. It’s going to be great.”
Dr. Frank Rodriguez, the central region superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District, said Hayden brings a unique set of characteristics that stakeholders in the community asked for when searching for a new principal.
“She can really support students that are high-achieving in terms of the coursework that those students take and the challenging coursework and the rigor that’s required,” Rodriguez said. “And, additionally, she also has experience doing that for students that might struggle a little bit. She brings with her a very strong repertoire and experience in doing that work.”
Along with Instructional Superintendent Ed Tierney, Rodriguez said they listened closely to the stakeholders’ wants and needs for a new principal, utilizing that information during the interview process.
“Cara is one who really exemplifies a lot of those characteristics that they were looking for. She brings a tremendous amount of energy with her, and that’s really important in the life of a high school principal,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s very exciting that we were able to identify a candidate who can meet the qualifications and characteristics that the stakeholders in the community were looking for.”
Hayden got her start in Palm Beach County during the 2007-08 school year as a teacher of students with learning disabilities, algebra and geometry at Boynton Beach High School.
“Then I moved on to be a capacity specialist for mathematics for several struggling high schools in the central region,” Hayden said.
Afterward, she moved into a role as an assistant principal at Santaluces High School, where she stayed for five years.
“As an assistant principal at Santaluces, I was in charge of curriculum. I was in charge of the AP and AICE programs and all of testing and working with the teachers with their curriculum,” Hayden said. “So, I’m really looking forward to that aspect.”
After Santaluces, she moved to her current position as principal at Starlight Cove, where she has held the top job for two and a half years. Hayden said her time at Starlight Cove has been crucial experience necessary to transition from an assistant principal to a principal in a high school setting.
“As an assistant principal, you have very select responsibilities in a high school,” Hayden said. “So, really moving into Starlight Cove, it has taught me how to be a principal, how the buck stops here, how to get buy-in from all of our stakeholders and push through initiatives… It has been a really enlightening experience. There is no chance to blame it on somebody else anymore. It’s me. I’ve really learned and blossomed into a leader, I think, in the last two and a half years.”
Hayden looks forward to her new role, continuing to give students the opportunity to thrive in a high school setting and helping them move forward in their lives.
“I love the diversity within Palm Beach County schools,” Hayden said. “I love that we are always trying to give opportunities to all of our students, no matter who or what or how. We want to expand upon our academies and [keep] trying to make sure all of our students can get a college education if they want to.”