The single most important decision to be made by the Board of Education will be the selection of the next superintendent — a role that will have a profound, far-reaching effect on an entire generation of students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. We must learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid rushing through the process, while also soliciting input from our school communities and also performing the most robust due diligence possible. That means visiting the final candidates school districts, speaking to teachers and parents, reading through news coverage, performing criminal and background checks, searching court records, and employing a professional who understands the special needs of our school district. Mistakes that undermine the leadership of a school district do not happen in a vacuum, and it will fall on our Board of Education to ensure that we have the best possible superintendent in place, not just the most expedient one.
The district’s next leader will have a formidable task ahead and will have to hit the ground running to fill key administrative positions, while also maintaining a nimble, dynamic approach to our unique and deep-seated challenges. These include:
- Shaping a curriculum that taken into account individual learning styles;
- Incorporating creativity throughout the educational system that will serve our students beyond their school years;
- Laying out a framework for the use of educational technology, as well as safeguards;
- Putting forth a bold, effective plan to address the achievement gap;
- Enacting a safety and security plan for every school that takes into account the whole child;
- Implementing initiatives to improve academic performance while also fostering our students’ innate creativity.