Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

James Barriale, 58, Popular School Leader, Is Mourned

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

James Barriale, 58, Popular School Leader, Is Mourned

Article excerpt

Public school classes in Prospect Park were canceled Monday for the funeral of the popular and hands-on superintendent.

James Barriale, a 28-year veteran of the one-school district, died of cardiac arrest last Wednesday. He was 58.

"You couldn't find another superintendent like him -- it's impossible," said school board President Albert Demarest. "He'd walk the halls of the school and then stay in the cafeteria with the kids for the whole lunch period. What superintendent does that?"

Demarest was on the board in 1982 when Mr. Barriale -- then an English as a Second Language teacher at Manchester Regional High School -- was hired to be assistant principal of Prospect Park School 1, which serves pre-kindergarten through Grade 8. He quickly became principal and was promoted to superintendent in 2002.

Writing the grant proposals himself, Mr. Barriale landed millions of dollars in state and federal aid for the ethnically diverse district, which has just under 900 students. He secured $2 million toward the school's soon-to-be-completed expansion and, recently, $59,000 for security cameras, Demarest said.

Mr. Barriale was adamant against paying a professional grant writer. "He didn't want us to pay anybody else when he knew how to do it himself," Demarest said. "With him, it was always, I want to get this, I want to get that, for the kids."

Mr. Barriale is credited with starting gifted-and-talented, peer tutoring and autism programs. He was honored by colleagues and the Board of Education in 2007 on his 25th anniversary with the district.

Maria Rivera, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, grew emotional talking about Mr. Barriale. She said the superintendent was accessible to parents and adept at "making whatever obstacles that are in the way go away." And she said she was "forever grateful" for Mr. Barriale's efforts on behalf of her 13-year-old son, who has dyslexia.

"Dr. Barriale realized his needs could not be met [in Prospect Park] and helped us get an out-of-district placement," Rivera said. "It's been two years and my son went from not being able to read, to reading on his own. ... If Dr. Barriale saw a child who needed particular help, he would go above and beyond. …

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