New Principals for Wellington HS and Palm Springs ES Named

Wellington High School and Palm Springs Elementary School have new leadership being called to the principal’s office.

The School Board approved Cara Hayden as the new principal at Wellington High School, replacing Mario Crocetti, who retires in February. Esther Rivera has been named the principal of  Palm Springs Elementary School, replacing current principal Dawn Lewis, who is also retiring.

The women started their careers at the School District on the same day as teachers at Boynton Beach High School 10 years ago.

Hayden has been the principal at Starlight Cove Elementary School in Lantana since 2016 and has seen the school go from a D to a C. Prior to that, she was an assistant principal at Santaluces High School, where her attention to learning gains led to students’ increased proficiency in each subject year over year.

“I am honored and so excited to take on this incredible opportunity,” Hayden told Board members during Wednesday’s meeting.

Hayden is a graduate of Florida State University and has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Specific Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disturbances, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.

Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico who moved to the United States at a young age, says that her experience as an English Language Learner gives her a unique perspective to the challenges and successes of students acquiring second languages, much like many of the students at Palm Springs Elementary.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be selected as the new principal of Palm Springs Elementary School,” Rivera said during her remarks to the Board. “We did it! Lo hicimos.”

She is currently an assistant principal at John I. Leonard High School, where she spearheaded the work to advance students in Dual Language, the Spanish Academy and English Language Learners to help increase the overall graduation rate of the students. She also implemented Latinos in Action, a program targeting Latino students to encourage participation in rigorous coursework and close the achievement gap with minority students.

She has also served as the assistant principal of Indian Ridge School,where she says her experience in the Exceptional Education program gave her the ability to recognize autism in her own son.

Rivera has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.