- January 26, 2022
Daniel Kempinger is Glenridge Middle School’s newest principal. He began his teaching career in 2001. He became an administrator in 2013 for Orange County Public Schools after teaching reading, language arts and serving as a reading coach at the secondary level.
He said his main responsibility is to ensure every student has a promising and successful future. To do that, he manages the budget effectively to ensure the school has the best staff available to support the students. But, as with all public-school jobs, his daily responsibilities can range from data analysis and managing professional learning communities to helping to clean the campus and work through middle-school conflicts with students.
As principal, he said he is most looking forward to continuing the Legacy of the Lions.
What brought you to your school?
I was transferred from Union Park Middle School as the assistant principal of instruction in the summer of 2019. In the summer of 2021, I was hired as the principal.
What do you love most about your school?
This is difficult to answer. When you get to watch 1,150 students interact with more than 100 staff members every day, there is so much to be excited about. I love that our teachers maintain high expectations for all students and our students shine in that atmosphere. That includes all aspects of learning-academics, arts, athletics and emotionally.
What is your motivation?
My motivation as an educator has never wavered. I believe that teaching is a talent and gift. I began my career in the classroom and spent most of my time working with struggling readers. I have seen the difference it can make when children realize their potential. Every day, we wake up with the opportunity to change lives. It absolutely inspires me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As an administrator: Seeing my teachers happy. When you hire the right people and everyone is committed to a vision, it is extremely rewarding to see those people happy. Deep down, I know that they are happy because they are seeing the results of hard work.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Most of my spare time is spent with family. I have two sons (who) are baseball players. My wife and I can be found at various fields around the state year-round watching them play.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
My favorite teacher was Mr. Chu. He was my freshman English teacher. He was as eccentric as they come. We read novels almost exclusively and he taught us to think on our own. It was the first teacher who I felt wanted to know what the students were thinking. He was ahead of his time in that regard.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Early on, I wanted to be a veterinarian. My parents owned a pet shop, and I loved animals.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I was obsessed with anything by Dr. Seuss, but especially “Yertle the Turtle.” I remember my mom and I reading that book hundreds of times.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love the power to fly — especially with the price of gas these days.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
My wife will absolutely be mortified by my choices. I don’t spend much time listening to music, but when I do, it’s mostly for nostalgia. My wife is a huge music fan of all genres. Billy Joel: I grew up in New York and Billy Joel was a fixture on the radio and in the house. Dave Mathews Band: This is the first concert I attended with my wife, and their library is diverse and powerful. Bon Jovi: I need something to jam out to.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
Peanut butter and jelly for the first four years. Then, I remember vividly switching to ham and cheese in fifth grade. And of course, I would always buy lunch on “square pizza” day.
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
My best friend growing up was Chris Bissaccia. He was in my wedding, and our boys are roughly the same age. Even though he lives in New York, we still keep in touch and see each other on special occasions.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I played the trumpet for seven years and was in the marching band. I was also on the varsity baseball team in high school. There were various other clubs and extracurriculars that I would participate in, but nothing that I stuck with.