News & Events

Careers at RPS

Welcome to Rutgers Prep

As Dean of Faculty, I have been here for 16 years and have taught a variety of middle school classes ranging from math, STEAM, computers, cycle and science. Not only have I been a classroom teacher, but an advisor, a coach, and a mentor for fellow teachers.

If you are considering a career at Rutgers Prep, which I sincerely and enthusiastically recommend, please read on.

Heather Vaccarino

What We Seek:

Rutgers Prep seeks passionate individuals who are curious and lifelong learners. We promote self-growth for the future endeavors of our faculty members through professional development. 77% of current faculty members have advanced degrees and 8 have doctorates. We seek individuals who teach the “whole” child. We encourage faculty members to be part of our community by supporting students in all divisions. Faculty members are supported to try new things and stay updated with the recent trends in education.

Any inquiries should be emailed to Karen De Nise at

Who We Are:

Rutgers Prep is a diverse Independent School. We are diverse in age, ethnicity, nationality, learning style, and culture. Our students range from age 3 to grade 12 and more than 50 languages are spoken in the homes of our students. Rutgers Prep is a family where teachers and students grow together. Teachers are able to really get to know their students due to our low 8:1 student to teacher ratio. Teachers also develop relationships with families, which enables support and growth of our students through their entire education.

Current Faculty

Pablito Lake

Chair of the Computer Education Program, Upper School Computer Science Teacher

In addition to teaching one of Rutger Prep's three post-Advanced-Placement courses (Advanced Software Design), Mr. Lake's students have developed two mobile apps for the United Nations.

Mary Kay Papa

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Through hands-on, experience based learning, Mrs. Papa helps our youngest students to develop a love of learning, become more independent, and prepare to move forward in their academic lives.

Nishita Desai

Upper School Science Teacher

Before joining Rutgers Prep, Mrs. Desai was a practicing cancer biologist at UMDNJ, specializing in prostate cancer research. She recently partnered Rutgers Prep with NASA to assist in their effort to conduct research on soil moisture worldwide.

Stephen Mitchell

Middle School History and World Language Teacher

By engaging in thoughtful, creative, and interesting lessons about a variety of subjects, Mr. Mitchell provides his students with the tools and skills that will help them to be successful for years to come. He also makes a mean jambalaya.

Depending on the division in which a faculty member teaches, their daily schedule can be quite diverse. Faculty members teach in one or more of the three divisions (Lower School, Middle school, and Upper School). In both Middle School and Upper School divisions a full-time teacher has 5 classes, advisory, and lunch duty. A Lower School teacher depending on the grade will have a much different type of schedule. Lower school teachers are expected to have a homeroom, teach all academic classes, and lunch duty. Lower School teachers have planning time during specials and Pre-K and JK have nap time daily.

Faculty members may also elect to coach (52% of coaches are classroom teachers and 81% of head coaches are classroom teachers), work in our After School Program, run clubs during or after school, play in the jazz band, help with drama productions, volunteer for MS/LS Dances, participate in STEAM Night, and run an Innovation Program. Faculty members wear a lot of different hats, which means they get to know our students in different ways. We all know the way a student acts in the classroom isn’t necessarily how a student acts on a lacrosse field. Being visible and involved allows us to make stronger connections to our students that will enable us to learn what motivates our students.

Our Mission Faculty Directory


Our campus is situated on 42 acres in Somerset, NJ. We are conveniently located to 287, NJ Turnpike, NJ Parkway, Route 1, and the New Brunswick train station. Students and teachers travel from as far as Philadelphia and New York City to our campus each day. We are also lucky enough to border the Delaware and Raritan Canal park and the Raritan River, which gives us easy access to the tow path that can be used for hiking, biking, fishing, walking, or running

We are within short driving distances from many small towns as well as parklands, and only 40 miles from Sandy Hook Beach and less than an hour drive to shore point towns like Long Branch or Asbury Park. The campus of Rutgers University is a 10 minute drive from campus, and Princeton University is a 25 minute drive.

.Directions NJ Transit

Professional Development

At Rutgers Prep, Faculty members are encouraged and fully supported to complete professional development that will enhance their curriculum and benefit their students. Faculty members have attended workshops through NJAIS, PBL Works, Mindful Schools, Learning and the Brain, Global Online Academy, NAIS, BER, graduate school programs, and doctorate programs to name a few. Faculty members have completed programs for certification for Google Training, Harkness Method, ….

Cora Turlish explains, "At RPS I've had the opportunity to develop professionally according to my interests. I'm thrilled with how my job has evolved over the years and how the administration has supported me in the directions I've wanted to go”.

Cora Turlish

Colleen Vinchur explains, “Working at Rutgers Prep is fun! The friendships and partnerships are lifelong. The school is supportive and flexible. The longevity of our faculty says it all. Work=Family at Rutgers Prep. I am happy to come to work each day, with a smile on my face

Colleen Vinchur

Technology and Executive Function

Today, students are faced with a unique challenge. Students will be entering the workforce and will require a much different skill set as compared to 20 years ago. Students will need to know how to utilize technology and develop better technologies but will also need to have strong executive function skills. According to Forbes Magazine, students will need the following skills to succeed in 2020:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Service orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive flexibility

Teachers focus on building character and inspiring students to be curious through engaging curriculum. In order to do that, teachers think outside of the box and some teach through PBL Units. We want to foster the development of these 21st Century skills, but also be mindful of the role that technology will play in our students’ futures. Teachers use technology in the classroom to enhance education. Our Upper School and Middle School are part of the 1:1 program with iPads. Teachers actively used iPads in the classroom and teach students ways how to effectively and correctly use technology. Lower School students have classroom sets of chrome books. Students learn early on the basics of how to research, type, and collaborate.

Academic Technology

How to Apply

Applications are always being accepted for employment at Rutgers Prep. If you are interested in submitting an application for employment at Rutgers Prep, please email Karen De Nise ( If you are applying for a Substitute Teacher position, please contact Meredith Santowasso (

Diversity / Inclusion

Our faculty members are not only passionate teachers, but passionate people in making this world a better place. Faculty members joined together and created a committee to research information about social justice and diversity. This faculty group is called AID (Advocates for Inclusion in Diversity). AID seeks to harness the strengths that reside in our community’s diversity - including race, gender, ability, ethnicity, religion, financial circumstance, geography, and sexual orientation- to inspire faculty and students to become advocates of social justice.


Rutgers Preparatory School provides Mindfulness Education to its students, faculty, staff, and parents. Research shows that mindfulness skills improve memory, organizational skills, reading and math scores, all while giving kids the tools they need to handle toxic stress. Mindfulness is a cornerstone to the transformative environment at RPS.

Gratitude, Heartfulness, Empathy, and Positive Thinking are all Mindfulness lessons students are exposed to at RPS. Starting in the lower school, students learn breathing strategies and how to identify feelings, while in middle school and upper school students can practice calming the mind through guided mindfulness sits and using the newly designed mindfulness room. In the upper school students are also able to participate in Yoga.

Thank you for considering joining Rutgers Prep. If I can clarify anything for you I would be honored to hear from you to reply to any questions you might have.

Heather Vaccarino
Dean of Faculty
6th and 7th Grade Science Teacher

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