BY HANNAH NISHIURA
Some people search their whole lives to find their passion in a career. James T. Pierson found two, one in education and another in the volunteer emergency services. These passions were nourished at Red Bank Regional where he graduated in 2001.
At RBR, Pierson’s favorite class was woodshop, as well as his work-study program. The program gave him an idea of the real world and taught a crucial balance. When asked if there was a certain teacher in the school who inspired him, he immediately said Mr. Locke, his work-study program educator. Pierson recalled how Locke made sure his students were always on the right track and helped inspire and influence everyone around him.
Pierson states, “RBR was an opportunity for me to continue to grow academically and socially. At the time, Red Bank Middle School was not a very diverse school. However, when I transitioned to the high school, I had the opportunity to collaborate with students from different towns and backgrounds.”
Pierson attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as Monmouth University, where he studied Educational Leadership and Criminal Justice. He went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in teaching from Monmouth University in 2007.
His passion and talent in education has been recognized with the award of Teacher of the Year at Red Bank Middle School (2016), as well as Teacher who Rocks (2015). His dual desire to serve his community was realized when he first joined the auxiliary police program in Middletown where he served for 11 years and the Volunteer Fire Department in Red Bank where he has served for the past 13 years. Pierson states that he loves his work as a firefighter, because he prefers to work where he can make the most impact in helping his community. He adds, “I also enjoy working with a great group of people.”
From the onset of his college days, Pierson claims that he never planned to go into the teaching field or even stay in the Red Bank area. He lives in Red Bank with his wife Jessica. While in college, however, he had the experience of teaching as a substitute teacher and immediately fell in love with the profession. One thing he deems necessary to be a good educator is to have an essential love of children and to do all possible to care for and inspire future generations. He began his career at Red Bank Middle School in 2007 as a social studies teacher, and he is now currently one of the two Vice Principals at RBMS. His unique teaching style is showcased by his students’ successful participation in the SIFMA Foundation’s national stock market competition where his students consistently placed either first, second, or third in the six years they competed. Pierson also wrote and received the Achieve 3000 Grant bringing $5,000 to the school to enhance reading comprehension. He also created a Donors Choose project that raised over $10,000 for the school to purchase laptops and health and fitness equipment.
In addition to his responsibilities of Vice Principal, Pierson serves as the athletic director, after-school program supervisor, and district test coordinator. He even finds the time to serve as an alternate member for the Red Bank Library Board of Trustees.
When asked what advice is most important to offer teenagers about following their dreams, he responded, “Try it all.” As a criminal justice major, Pierson claimed that he never would have found his love for teaching without having the courage to try new things. He stated, “Don’t set yourself on one thing. How do you know if you like something without ever doing it?”
Looking to the future, Pierson has aspirations for both his careers. He hopes to one day become a principal or superintendent, and maybe even the Chief of the Red Bank Fire Department. Paramount, however, is his passion for teaching. He claims, “My most rewarding accomplishment is having the opportunity to work in the same town that raised and educated me. It is a great privilege to serve as the Vice Principal of Red Bank Middle School and to have graduated from Red Bank Regional High School.”