New Salem High School Principal ready to build on successful programs
on September 12, 2014
SALEM — John Mulhorn believes that Salem High School has some of the best and most rigorous programs for students in the county and wants to keep providing students with more ways to be successful after they leave the school.
Mulhorn just began his first year as principal at the high school after a nine-year stint of holding the same position at Salem Middle School.
He's been with the district for 16 of his 20 years in education, and when former principal Dr. Gregory Dunham retired after the 2013-2014 school year ended, Mulhorn had the opportunity to take on what he called his dream job.
"When I first started working for the Salem City School District, one of my goals was to become principal at the high school," he said. "I love the city, I love the community and I love the kids. I have to make sure they have the opportunities to be successful."
Now that he's a few months into the job, Mulhorn said he's ready to take the platform of successful courses that Dunham built — like the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and various advanced placement courses — and keep making improvements.
"He's a mentor of mine and someone I respect tremendously," he said of Dunham. "To follow in his footsteps and build on what has been established here is exciting."
New this year to Salem High School is the "Project Lead the Way" Program, a pre-college engineering program that gives interested students a chance to get a taste of what it would be like studying engineering after high school. More than 50 students are participating in the program's first year.
"Before they go to college and spend thousands of dollars on a program, they have the opportunity to take engineering classes here at Salem High School," he said.
Mulhorn said they will continue to promote the IB program, which is not offered by any other school in Salem County. It's a rigorous two-year program that gives students a chance to travel outside of the country in addition to preparing them for the challenges of college classes.
"It's very difficult," Mulhorn said. "It's a pre-college course... It's recognized not only nationally but globally."
When the first group of IB students graduated from Salem High School last year, Mulhorn said every one got into the colleges of their choice.
Mulhorn also hopes to continue to expand the school's AP courses. There are 10 this year, and he hopes to add four more for next year. He said it was all about giving students the chance to succeed.
"If you want to work hard and take that chance, there are opportunities here," he said. "You can go on and become what you want to become."
Salem City School District Superintendent Dr. Amiot P. Michel said Mulhorn is the perfect pick to continue the progress at the high school.
"He's an outstanding principal," he said. "And he has been for us for a long time."
As for Mulhorn, he's committed to the school and to Salem. Not only has he been in the district for 16 years, but he lives in Elsinboro Township with his wife, Tatiana, and his children either have gone through Salem High School or will in the future.
After nine years as principal of the middle school, Mulhorn has gotten the chance to get to know many of the kids that are currently in high school, and he thinks that familiarity helps him connect with the students.
"By knowing the kids I can make sure I can related to them on a different level and let them know that their education is a serious business," he said. "These kids have one chance for a highly effective education, and it's my job to make sure they have the best opportunities and they have the best teachers sitting in front of them everyday."
Mulhorn admits that moving up from the middle school is a challenge, but it's one he said he's ready to take on.
"I'm very excited about what we have going on here," he said. "I'm excited about where we're going to go.