The Pioneer

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The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Who is Ms. Towson?

Who is Ms. Towson?

Ms. Annette Towson, the Director of Human Resources for the West Orange school district, is an extraordinary leader who has worn many hats. 

Before her time working for West Orange, Ms. Towson worked in the city, commuting every day. However, she felt at a loss when she realized her job was taking away from time with her son. “I’m a mom”, she passionately explained as the reason for her switch. She added, “When you’re a mother and working in education, it gives you latitude”. 

And so, Ms. Towson began her career in education 29 years ago in East Orange. Yet, for 26 years she has been a devoted, driven, and hard-working addition to the West Orange machine. 

Her extensive resume includes teaching English at Roosevelt Middle School, teaching American Literature at West Orange High School, working in the Dean’s office at the high school, taking on the role of Assistant Principal at the high school, and finally settling in as the acting Director of Human Resources for the district. 

Process-oriented and willing to take on new opportunities without hesitation, Ms. Towson fits right into the position of Director of Human Resources. Along with her charismatic and welcoming personality, I can think of no other person qualified enough for the job. With previous district knowledge and confidence in her department’s exceptional ability to help her acclimate,  she accepted a new challenge. 

Ms. Towson was an English major at Montclair State University, but what I found most captivating was the four years she took to serve in the Marine Corps. From her experience, she developed discipline, focus, and thoughtfulness.  

When pressed with the question of whether or not she has faced any challenges, Ms. Towson responded that “[she] had an amazing career.” Any problem she may have encountered was met with hard work and effort. These qualities made it easy for her to thrive in every environment she was in. Ms. Towson also stressed the importance of working with a team that will “support you” and making sure you understand how to “reach out” when necessary. 

As for her most proud achievement, Ms. Towson ecstatically responded that “being able to go into every position that I’ve been a part of, assess that position, and then make decisions to help move that position forward” was her most prized accomplishment.  

Nothing encapsulates Ms. Towson’s go-getter attitude better than when she explained, “Some people fear change, I embrace it.” She expressed how there are always changes in any job, and her strategy to deal with such change is to consider how she can contribute differently and in her own way. 

As for her time working for the district, she believes “[she] has learned everything” that has shaped her, both as an educator and as a person. By exposing herself to new experiences and asking questions, Ms. Towson has led a successful and productive career. 

Throughout her career, her goals have changed depending on the role she has played. For example, when she was teaching English, she wanted her students to walk away with a “wealth of understanding and knowledge.” Additionally, while working in the Dean’s office, she hoped to guide students in the best way she could to help them grow. Furthermore, as the Assistant Principal, Ms. Towson wanted to help the school grow.  

Ms. Towson’s greatest role model is her mother. She believes that parents are such an intricate part of who we are and what we become, and her mother only ever wanted to see her children succeed. She believes that the work she has done both as an educator and a mother herself has lived up to the expectations of the example she saw every day in her own mother. 

Some pearls of wisdom Ms. Towson hopes to pass on are the importance of working hard, commitment, and fairness. These are qualities she reminds herself of as well. However, she believes that everyone’s life and journey is “so very specific.” Ms. Towson hopes that “if [she] can be of assistance in helping someone understand their journey [she] will help in any capacity.” 

Ms. Towson will finish her career in September of 2024. A bittersweet feeling; it will bring an end to almost three decades of passion, dedication, and hard work. Her experience and life is unlike any other. It is important to recognize how much she has achieved in so many capacities. Ms. Towson represents a wonderful example not just of a black female leader of excellence but of someone who has taken on countless opportunities, overcome challenges, and shined in any position she has taken on.

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