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Heather Pino-Beattie Named Montgomery High School Principal

By Anna Reinalda | December 23, 2021

Heather Pino-Beattie has been appointed Montgomery High School principal, becoming the first openly gay school principal in the Montgomery Township School District (MTSD).

At the Board of Education meeting on December 14, MTSD Superintendent Mary McLoughlin welcomed Pino-Beattie to the podium, while her wife and two young children sat close by.

“Montgomery High School has become an extension of my family,” Pino-Beattie said.

A member of the MHS staff for 12 years, Pino-Beattie began her career in education in 2001 as an English teacher. She’ll begin her new position on January 3, when school resumes after the winter break.

Montgomery High School Principal Paul Popadiuk (left) retired on December 23 after 12 years as principal. Heather Pino Beattie, a former Montgomery guidance counselor and vice principal, will become the new MHS principal in January.

Pino-Beattie recalled her first principal warning her to keep her personal life separate from her work in education.

“Twenty years ago, being a member of the LGBT community and an educator was sadly something to be hidden,” Pino-Beattie said.

Eager to set an example, Pino-Beattie said she aims to be “a symbol of hope for any young person out there who’s wondering if the seemingly impossible is possible.”

Former Principal Paul Popadiuk, who joined Montgomery High School in 1996 as a teacher of history and psychology before becoming vice-principal, and finally principal in 2010, will go on to be the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (NJSIAA) chief compliance officer.

Pino-Beattie commended him for “[working] arduously to create a community that’s built upon a foundation of trust, student-first mentality, and where all staff are valued and provided with opportunities to grow.”

“I am proud to continue [Popadiuk’s] mission, which has become a part of my own,” she said.

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Pino-Beattie expressed optimism for the future, especially as the school hopefully begins to move out of the pandemic and toward rebuilding community. She emphasized the importance of diversity, inclusion, and collaboration within the school, and, calling back to her time as a guidance counselor, promised to keep mental health and social relationships in mind.

The BOE approved her appointment with emphatic “yeses” across the board, and wished her well in the next leg of her academic career.

“I could not be any prouder than to be called the principal of Montgomery High School,” Pino-Beattie said.

“I have a rich legacy that I will follow and I plan to uphold all that is good and continue to move forward.” ■


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