Letter from Kohler Academy Principal, Gary Pignatello

Welcome to Kohler Academy! 

My name is Gary Pignatello and I’m happy to be the principal of this extraordinary school. From the moment I first visited Kohler Academy, I was impressed by the level of individual attention and enthusiasm every staff member brought to each student. That feeling is rekindled every time I walk the halls and enter the classrooms. This is a truly caring environment and I’m proud to be a part of it.

I started my career in the Newark Public School System. I then became a special education teacher at a private high school; that’s when I realized that special education would be my lifelong pursuit. I taught grades 3-12 during my 10 years as a teacher and served as an assistant soccer coach and cross-country running coach. I also served as a school social worker and counselor before becoming an administrator.

I have developed my philosophy as an educational leader over many years while serving in various roles from paraprofessional to principal. That philosophy is: 1- A school must first be a place that is safe and where students are treated with love and respect, 2- We must strive to help every student function at the highest level of their capabilities; anything less is simply unacceptable, 3- A special educator must be a special person, that is, a person who is skilled at both finding how each individual learns best and developing the tools to implement that learning.

Outside of school, I have two children ages 27 and 11. I’m an avid hiker and enjoy all facets of nature. I’m a big believer in having personal goals/challenges to strive toward. My next challenge is a hike to the Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal, then, who knows!

I’m always happy to answer questions and/or show off the many accomplishments of our staff and students. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Gary Pignatello



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