Veteran educator to take top school job


Staff Writer

EDISON — Like her predecessor, Carol Toth started her career in the Edison school district and plans to finish it here.

Toth, who replaced longtime Superintendent Vincent J. Capraro on Nov. 22, said the district has “been very good” to her during the 36 years she has already spent here.

She plans to stay put until it’s time to retire.

“But that won’t be for a while,” said Capraro as he helped her get settled in to her new post on Monday. “She’ll probably be here longer than I was [for 43 years].”

Her length of service in the district, which included stints as deputy superintendent, assistant to the superintendent, assistant principal and teacher, will be a true asset to the district as its top administrator, he said.

“Familiarity is very important,” Capraro said. “Carol has been in the district for so long. She has a true sense of what the district is all about. She knows what to anticipate before it even happens and has a unique, effective approach.”

The Board of Education hired administrators from outside the district before and it did not work out well, he said.

Toth and Capraro joked and reminisced as they planned for the district’s future together. Capraro will remain in an advisory capacity until Dec. 31.

He was packing and she was unpacking and preparing for her first administrative meeting.

“I’m turning that meeting over to Carol today,” Capraro said on Monday. “There is no time like the present.”

But Toth said replacing her longtime colleague was bittersweet.

“It’s exciting,” Toth said. “But, at the same time, it’s very depressing to see him [Capraro] clearing out his things.”

Capraro started in the district in 1963, a few months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Toth started in 1969, right out of college. There was no traumatic historic event to mark the start of her career.

Still, she will never forget that first day and everything she has learned to this point.

“I started at Thomas Jefferson Middle School as a social studies and English teacher,” Toth said. “It was my first job. Ever since then, I have made it a priority to really get to know the students. Getting insight into different problems they encounter and various personalities is an invaluable tool — it only helps in successfully approaching any learning situation.”

To truly understand the students she was educating, Toth always made sure she was involved in after-school activities.

She has been yearbook advisor, cheerleading adviser and co-curricular liaison.

“Knowing these kids in and out of the classroom is a constant reminder that, as an educator, you must never lose sight of the fact that they are people, individuals — human beings like anyone else — and they have feelings just like everyone else,” Toth said.

To know the students is to be a better teacher and administrator, she said.

“That is what is special about Carol,” Capraro said. “She really takes the time to relate to the students. They are always going to be more open to learning if the educator is listening to them as well — not only as students, but as people.”

And the students are more “workable” and “exceptional” because of people like Toth, he added.

But it’s not just the educators’ dedication that has molded what Capraro and Toth say is a high-achieving, unique and well-rounded student body.

“The parents are very receptive,” Toth said. “And the staff development program is one of the best in the state. I’m very proud of the fact that our district is very progressive in education. We have a proactive school district, not a reactive one. We don’t copy anyone. We are independent thinkers.”

Settling in has been a comfortable transition, she said.

“Dr. Capraro is a tough act to follow,” Toth said.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Capraro said. “She was chosen by the board with care from a pool of at least seven candidates. She’ll be just fine. But I’m not out the door yet.”