Dr. Michael A. Wanko has been a principal for over three decades and has served over 45 years in public education. He was selected by the New Jersey State Department of Education and the Dodge Foundation as a Visionary Principal of the Year. Additionally, he was selected as the NASSP/MetLife Principal of the Year, received the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) Golden Lamp Award, the ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) Angel Award, and the NCCJ (National Conference for Community and Justice) Silver Medallion.

Dr. Wanko is the author of the book, Safe Schools: Crisis Prevention and Response, which is available through the Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group – Scarecrow Publications as well as Barnes& It is a practical guide to creating safe and supportive schools. He also authored over a dozen articles and publications on education school safety and stress that have appeared in national magazines such as the High School Magazine, Educational Digest, The School Principal’s Insider, and the Journal of Education. He has given over 100 presentations throughout the country including national gatherings for NASSP, ASCD, and AASA. Closer to home, he has presented at institutions such as The College of New Jersey, Rutgers, and Princeton University.

In addition to his Ph.D., he holds two masters degrees, six educational certifications, and an 8th Degree Black Belt in karate. Dr. Wanko has sat as a National Chair for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and as President, Council, Board of Directors, and Cabinet Member for the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA). He also served as the Lead Coordinator, Region 2, for NASSP serving New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, and as a trustee for the Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA). Additionally, he was a member of the Rutgers Institute for Improving Student Achievement (RIISA) serving with former NJDOE Commissioner, Dr. William Librera.

During his tenure, he attained the following awards and recognitions for his schools: Governor’s School of Excellence, Star School, Seven Best Practices, full membership to National Coalition of Essential Schools, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley Liberty Fellowship, Golden Achievement Award, Outstanding High School by the New Jersey Magazine, an “A” rating as a Top Performing Public School, a Top 10 Schools ranking by the Star-Ledger, and National Model of a Safe and Supportive School by USA Weekend Magazine.

Dr. Wanko served from 2014-2016 as Interim Superintendent for the Passaic County Manchester Regional High School District and by a shared services agreement the Haledon Public School.  From 2017-2019 he served as the Interim Superintendent for the Bayonne Public School District.  While there he implemented various enhanced security initiatives including an armed security team.