By MASUMI CHHABRIA ‘23 and JASON ZHENG ‘22
With energetic greetings at the front doors every morning and engaging Friday Academic Focus presentations, an inspirational administrator has made a difference for countless Edison High students and staff. As a result, as Mr. Charles Ross’ birthday on May 5 nears, The Eagle’s Eye interviewed the former teacher and the current principal of Edison High School, now in his eleventh year. Prior to joining the Edison High community, he taught various history subjects in East Orange and was an Assistant Principal at East Orange High School. An advocate for diligence towards academic success, he has an impressive academic record himself. He completed his higher education at Rutgers University and New Jersey City University.
Known for his eccentric personality, Mr. Ross usually welcomes incoming Edison High students with a rousing speech about what is great about Edison High. However, for this year’s freshman class, this pandemic has hindered their ability to experience his presentation in-person about important topics, such as the four Rs of Eagle Pride: Respect, Readiness, the Red and the Gold, and Responsibility.
As the year ends, now is the perfect time to hear some of Mr. Ross’ reflections and some words of encouragement for his students at home. He points out the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning has created for students as well as for him, making this one of the hardest school years in his career: “Absolutely. The amount of change is usually incremental but the change this year has just been on so many different facets. I do enjoy a challenge.”
Mr. Ross reiterated that with all this change in the world, there must be some sort of semblance to how events were carried out in the past. As a result, instead of speaking on the intercom, Mr. Ross shares with the whole school a prerecorded video to highlight academic focus every Friday during period 1. Especially in these turbulent times, he notes that there is still a need to celebrate the unique accomplishments students have achieved.
Just as students are attending classes through Zoom or Google Meet, Mr. Ross now conducts his meetings through these online platforms. He shares the same hope as many high schoolers: to return to in-person learning. However, his main priority is and always has been the safety of his students. In fact, one of his goals for 2021 is to “try to keep the school and its population as safe as possible.” Clearly, these times have been difficult for everyone. Although Mr. Ross would rather be strolling Edison High’s halls discussing diverse topics with students and staff alike, he focuses on the responsibilities at hand. When asked to share some encouragement for those who may be struggling or possess a lack of motivation, his words are that “tomorrow’s a new day and just try to get up, get in all your Zoom, try.” While the days may become indistinguishable, blurring into one another, Mr. Ross’ advice is to find a starting point, no matter the circumstances, and strive for success in whatever form suits you.
“With all the hardships experienced in 2020, there has been an equal and arguably greater amount of successes reached with consistent effort—only a few kids are not making determined attempts,” Mr. Ross remarks. Therefore, a crucial reminder from Edison High’s principal is to utilize your free time to de-stress and explore your passions. Mr. Ross has been recently indulging in more books and TV shows of various genres, one of them being history—the subject he once taught. Although his message for students is that “Success is everyday: Doing it again, doing it again,” Mr. Ross explains that first, students must recognize that work in school matters. He may have moved on from his official role as an instructor, but if there has been anything this pandemic has proven, learning never stops.
He hopes his words can be supportive, and his reflections upon this school year so far should be an exceptional way to realize what is great about Edison High School. Finally, Mr. Ross applauded the staff for their tireless efforts and all the work that goes on behind the scenes, “I salute you guys.”
As always, he summarized his remarks with the desire for all students—on this day, his birthday, and every other day of the year.
“Just be what’s great about Edison High.”