Widgren Comes Back to Guidance in New District Role
New Director of Pupil Personnel Services was a guidance counselor in Sparta before coming to Jefferson as vice principal.
Singer, triathlete and now the Jefferson Township school district's Director of Pupil Personnel Services—all of these can be used to describe Peggy Widgren.
The former vice principal of Jefferson Township Middle School will move into her new position next week, and is currently busy wrapping up her current responsibilities.
Guidance counseling, which may be part of her new position, won’t be an entirely new experience for Widgren. She spent 10 years as a guidance counselor in Sparta before coming to Jefferson six years ago.
“A colleague from Sparta saw something in me and encouraged me to move into administration,” Widgren said.
She said that her role as a vice principal took her responsibilities to a different level than she had in guidance.
“I took more of a disciplinary role as a vice principal,” she said. “I had to deal with parents and students on a different level, and performed more conflict mediation.”
In her new role, she will be leading guidance counselors throughout the district and supporting them in their roles. She may take on a caseload of her own.
“I really need to see what’s going on when I get into the new position,” she said. “Some directors take on cases, some don’t. I’m not sure yet.”
One thing she knows is that she wants to be seen as the district director, not just the high school.
“I want to work with all the counselors, and be visible in all the schools,” she said.
Taking a role of supporting others has been in Widgren’s background for many years. She started in college as a music therapy major.
“I’ve always had an affinity toward helping people who are struggling,” she said.
Widgren graduated from Montclair State University as the teacher candidate of the year. She sat on a committee with John Goodlad, a noted author of books on education in America.
Having spent six years in Jefferson, Widgren said one of the things she’s most looking forward to in her new position is seeing all the students who have come through the middle school at the high school level.
Widgren also believes her long tenure in the district has taught her about navigating the system.
“I know a little about navigating the system here in Jefferson, and I believe that will help in this position,” she said.
When she’s not behind her desk, Widgren enjoys competing in triathlons, swimming and kayaking with her husband, a stay-at-home dad, and two children, who are 11 and 8. She competed on the Jtown Mudders team that ran a 12-mile, three-hour obstacle course last November for charity. She also enjoys music.
“If you were to look at my Ipod, you’d see that my tastes are all over the place,” Widgren said. “Sometimes it’s classical, sometimes church hymns and sometimes some 80s punk or Grateful Dead.”
Widgren is feeling all the typical emotions that come with a new position—excitement, nervousness and a little bit of melancholy at what she’s leaving behind.
“I will miss the fantastic connections I’ve made here at the middle school. We have a great staff, and while I can still see them, it won’t be the same. I won’t be able to just say hi in the hallway during the day.
“But I hope I’m leaving behind some good things, too,” she concluded.