Influencer of the Week: Monica Emery, Gotha Middle School

Principal Monica Emery encourages and pushes for a positive school culture among students at Gotha Middle School.

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  • | 10:30 a.m. September 18, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Monica Emery has been the principal at Gotha Middle School for less than two years, but she’s taken great strides at creating a positive school culture among the students. One of the ways she’s accomplished this is through the school’s lip-sync videos on social media, and a portion of one of those videos even made it on the “Today” show. Although the school did the first of those videos in 2014, they stopped for a few years until Emery got them going again when she became the school’s principal.

What do you love most about your school?

I love the diversity of our school. We have five feeder schools, and all of those schools are vastly different from each other. I love that the kids are introduced to a whole new community of people when they get to our school.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love watching students learn and watching teachers teach. I love watching middle school kids make the transition from elementary to high school. They’re learning how to be young adults.  

What made you want to take on this job?

I love Gotha. I know the potential Gotha has. I was an assistant principal here six years ago. I feel like the Gotha staff (is) part of my family.  

What motivates you and pushes you to do your best?

This school and this community deserves a middle school that they can trust. I know how important a positive environment is to not only the students, but their families.  Middle school is a difficult time. Kids are going through a lot. Making sure that I don’t let them down, that the students know that I will never stop trying for them, I’ll never stop pushing — that motivates me. 

What’s the nicest thing a student or faculty member has done for you?

When I got to the school, I started using the catch phrase “It’s a Great Day to be a Grizzly.” I say it every day — morning announcements, afternoon announcements, randomly during the day. Our kids even say it on our daily GTV (news). I know it’s corny and the kids weren’t afraid to tell me it was corny. On the last day of school last year, I was talking to my eighth-grade students. At the end of my little pep talk, I said, “It’s a great day,” and before I could finish, the entire cafeteria of students yelled, “to be a Grizzly!” It still makes me tear up!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to be outside. Most of the time, that takes place at Disney. 

If you were trapped on a deserted island and can only take three items with you, what would you bring and why?

Can I bring my husband and my two kids? Can they be my three things? If not, three books!

What was your favorite book? 

I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in high school, but I don’t think I appreciated it until I started using it as a teacher with my students.  

What is your favorite sports team?

I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan. E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!


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