Following the resignation of Dr. Derek Schuelein in April of 2020, Blind Brook High School sought to appoint a new principal with a set of progressive educational ideals. Blind Brook started the search for a new and qualified principal to be of utmost importance. The search, a rigorous one, began with an applicant pool of around fifty candidates. The very accomplished applicants endured several screenings as well as multiple rounds of interviews from the Board of Education, students, administrators, teachers, and support staff. After meeting with Dr. Jennifer Chirles, it was clear that she was the perfect match for Blind Brook.
Chirles, an experienced educator, has been a teacher for twelve years and a principal for five. It was no surprise to hear about how much she has been enjoying her time at Blind Brook thus far. She cheerfully stated, “I’ve loved it. It has been really great. Everyone is very nice, students have been very kind, and I’ve loved being able to get into the classrooms and everything.” Immersing oneself in any community during COVID-19 poses many difficulties, and breaking into the tight-knit Blind Brook circle is all the more difficult. Dr. Chirles, being that she is very personable, has been very successful nevertheless. She expressed, “The hardest thing is getting to know kids because I only see them two days and I see a whole different group for two days and so that part has been a little hard. But I’ve liked it a lot.” Despite these challenges, Chirles has relished every minute of her new job. Upon being asked about her favorite things about Blind Brook, she responded, “So far I really like that it’s a small tight-knit community. I like that everyone really values education and having a good educational experience. I really appreciate the high quality learning and teaching that goes on in the interactions between the teachers and the students. What the teachers and students have done has been really impressive.” It is evident that Dr. Jennifer Chirles is truly passionate about being the principal of Blind Brook High School.
When she is not in the classroom, Dr. Chirles finds herself enjoying some of her favorite hobbies. “I like to cook a lot, I started taking up oil painting a few years ago, and I like to read,” she said. Being that she is so involved with the students, she voiced, “I like to read things that kids are reading at school, just so that I get an idea of what you guys are learning.” Some of Dr. Chirles’s favorite titles are: The Alchemist, Passage, and Untamed. Untamed particularly interests her because “it’s a dystopian fiction about vampires but you don’t know that they are vampires. A virus that gets out so when the pandemic hit I was like oh my gosh it’s just like my favorite book. I really liked it because it was bouncing back from the present day to the future- hundreds of years in the future and what happened after the pandemic and so I thought that was an interesting way to look at it.” Upon being asked what three words describe her, Dr. Chirles exclaimed, “I think I’m friendly… I’m a bit nerdy… I think I’m driven… no, creative! Driven and creative!” She shared an anecdote about her experience in the honors shapers of the world class: “Today I went into honors shapers and they were talking about Vincent Van Gogh, and I shared one of my favorite memories of Vincent Van Gough when I watched him on Dr. Who, and nobody in the class knew who Dr. Who was! I’m the nerd who knows who Dr. Who is!”
Dr. Chirles entered Blind Brook with a vision. She firmly believes that high school should be a place where students can learn about themselves as learners in order to ultimately contribute to society. Chirles outlined one of her long term goals for Blind Brook by stating, “I want to develop avenues for students to really explore who they are as learners and as people. I want students to be able to, in creative ways, really develop themselves as members of society that can contribute meaningfully. So I want students to develop research skills, public speaking skills, ability to look at a piece of literature or music or mathematics and really be inquisitive about it and really break it apart and put it back together- to really cognate on what’s really going on. I hope that when students graduate they had a great education and that they learned a lot about themselves as learners but also about the world around them and how they fit into the world around them and make the world a better place.”
From speaking with Dr. Chirles, I am confident that she is a wonderful addition to the Blind Brook community. She is very experienced in an academic setting and she clearly values spending time getting to know the students and the various classes around the building.