Thank you to the Board of Education – Diane, the members of the search committee, Mary Ann Friedman, Joe Miller (who has already begun the transition process in earnest) and Jeff Caccesse (who expressed and demonstrated the logical, rational manner in which the Board of Education in Delran has endeavored to function and operate).
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt shared that, “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” Not since 1983’s A Nation at Risk report has the manner in which we construct educational opportunities has there been so much at stake. In Delran we have a Board who has engaged to understand the stakes and you have a new Superintendent who will act, lead and inspire all stakeholders in Delran in targeted, precise ways. The schools of Delran – and the District that guides them collectively – is the heart of this community. That belief will be reinforced through my leadership. I believe that all of us are primed and supported to impact not only our District, but also this great town. To speak to President Roosevelt’s words, in Delran we are about to engage in a journey – one that demands precise leadership and well thought out execution – to ensure that our students excel, grow, contribute and become drivers of social change.
My professional experience traverses all grade spans throughout the K-12 continuum: as a principal at the high school level serving 2,000 students I have overseen a complete secondary level transformation to create programs and an environment that support students and supports teaching and learning: for instance expanded instructional opportunities and time, grading policy and final examination guidance that reflects rigorous expectations, a discipline code that is understanding of the students of today and the variety of needs they have, an attendance policy that expected more of students, upped the proverbial ante, and demanded they be in classes more and implemented withholding of credit consistently for those that could not. These secondary level changes were implemented in an inclusive environment and were reflected in an improvement in over 100 spots to now being a top 40 ranked high school by U.S. News and World Report.
Work as a Middle School Principal has afforded the opportunity to develop, and refine, the process of School Improvement Planning that develops logical and targeted intervention programs in response not only to specific data points but also to anecdotal feedback at the stakeholder level. These processes that ooze inclusiveness and participation opportunities of all stakeholders will, too, become commonplace in Delran. Work at the middle level offered me the opportunity to significantly monitor opportunities for student intervention. You see, each and every student should be given laser like interventions that are personally designed to address what academic challenges they have, regardless if they are achieving at the minimum levels of proficiency or far exceeding them. Our work in Delran will mirror the belief that ‘all means all.’ We will make efforts to expand our instructional reach and promote curricula and programs that support each learner we serve.
I’ve also worked in a District Central Office as the Director of Academic Support and Enrichment. While that role offered me the opportunity to lead from a global perspective in a large, complex, district is also gave me the opportunity drill down to the creation of and support of localized formative assessment programs that provided teachers at the classroom level with powerful data to influence students through thoughtful planning and, ultimately, intervention based around student need. The initiative served as a grass roots effort to assess student progress triennially; the program earned specific recognition as a best practice by the NJ School Boards Association in 2006.
During several conversations with the Board, I shared with them that there is much to be celebrated in Delran; your school performance reports reflect it, your pride reflects it and the energy that I have felt in conversations and emails I have had and received with some of you reflect that. You’ve achieved excellence in College and Career Readiness, you have impressive academic growth in math and you have unwavering support – a demand even – of literacy initiatives across curricular areas.
However, in Delran we are about to engage in a process that examines education at all of the grade spans, coupled with our achievement data as we create, initially localized and school level task forces designed to answer the question: Who are we in Delran and how can we make the academic achievement for our children more powerful?
Ultimately, as a group we will begin to define who we are, how we teach, how we lead and how we learn from each other and how we improve. As your superintendent I will be an active participant in that process and serve you well, serve you intelligently and serve you with the goal of placing you all in the position to be successful in such a way that each student and stakeholder realizes their potential.
I thank you for this opportunity to serve you all – in the words of the ice bucket challenge – I accept! I look forward to making this transition to Delran and working closely with you all. In closing, I thank you for this lovely welcoming – my wife Jill and I are eager to become a part fabric of the Delran community.