Summit Board of Education Honors District’s Retirees; Approves New Guidance Director

Sheila Cole Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Ken Shulack Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Arturo Lopez Credits: Bob Faszczewski

SUMMIT, NJ—Seventeen staff members, whose combined service to the Summit public schools totals 425 years, were honored by the Summit Board of Education on Thursday in celebration of their retirements.

Those cited by the board were: Steve Andrews, a music teacher at the Lawton C. Johnson Middle School; Sheila Cole, principal of Franklin School; Elizabeth Ann Egan, who taught second grade at Lincoln-Hubbard School; Sieghart Haid, a member of the maintenance staff at Jefferson School; Grace Hilliard of the district technology department, Robert Kaplow, an English teacher at Summit High School; Arturo Lopez, who taught English as a second language at the high school; Steve Palmisano, a custodian at Washington School; Jane Parkinson a counselor at the middle school; Frank Priore, a secretary at the high school; Carol Rogers-Shaw, a high school English teacher; Paula Rozan, a mathematics teacher at the high school; Gordon Sauer, a high school French and Spanish teacher, John Schnedeker, high school guidance director; Ken Shulack, district human resources director; and Jaime Suarez, a custodian at Franklin School.

Seven of the 17 retirees were present at Thursday’s meeting and they were introduced and honored by their colleagues.

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In introducing Andrews, high school fine, practical and performing arts supervisor Thomas Maliszewski praised his 36 years of service to Summit, including service at every school in the district and conducting the wind ensemble and the seventh-grade band. He also praised Andrews’ nine years as a teacher in Laurel, Missippippi during the time when that district was emerging from years of school segregation.

Andrews said it had been a pleasure to direct bands in every elementary school in the district, at the middle school and in the high school. He praised the excellence of the district, his peers and students and the support provided by the board of education.

Staff members at Franklin School had a rather unique method of praising their outgoing principal. Following up on a school tradition of presenting a poetry reading every Monday, they cited Cole’s attributes both in an educational light in in a humorous recitation of her most “memorable” characteristics.

In introducing Lopez, high school principal Paul Sears noted he had developed a bilingual liaison program for Hispanic students and their parents. He also praised the ESL teacher for giving these students a deeper understanding of such subjects as physics and United States history and for his service as director of bilingual education for the State of New Jersey.

Lopez replied that, what started as a “job” when he came to Summit 30 years ago eventually turned into a “mission.”

He also urged the district to continue its commitment by creating a truly bilingual world language program.

Sears, in introducing Sauer, noted that, in addition to teaching German during much of his 36 years in the Hilltop City schools, had also conducted French, Spanish and English as a Second Language classes. He added that the teacher had worked with many “legends” in the Summit schools, including Lawton C. Johnson, for whom the middle school is named.

“In devoting more than have my life to this profession, I can’t imagine a more rewarding way to have spent my life, “ Sauer replied. He urged those who follow him to be kind, be open and continue what all school staffers should be doing—that which is best for all children.

Cole introduced Suarez and noted the many personal sacrifices he had made in keeping Franklin School running efficiently, even in the last few years in the midst of some of the worst winter weather the area has ever seen.

Rozan was praised by high school mathematics supervisor Donald Tobey for her many contributions, including acting as a mentor to many staff members and her selection this year as one of Union County’s teachers of the year.

She replied that teaching in Summit “never has been a job for me. It has been a passion.”

The retiring mathematics teacher may be leaving fulltime, but, she said, she hopes this district, where she started her career as a substitute, will call upon her again in that role during her retirement years.

Shulack received praise from both high school assistant principal Jeffrey Heaney, a former student of the human resources director, and Ana Ventosa, supervisor of world language and English as a second language at the high school.

They said that the human resources director conveyed teaching as a “work of the heart” when recruiting new staffers and noted, under his leadership, Summit had built a teach of lifelong educational professionals.

They also praised him for his previous service as a teacher and vice principal in Hillsborough and as a principal in Westfield before taking over the Summit HR position 10 years ago.

“One of the best measures of an educator,” Shulack replied, “is knowing when to pass the torch.”

He said the Summit schools were truly world-class and, most importantly, after 38 years in education, he wanted all his colleagues to remember his famous slogan—“It’s all about the kids.”

In addition to the retirees, the board also honored the following who were cited this year as part of the Union County Teacher Recognition Program:

Lisa Bellluzzi of the Jefferson Primary Center, Francine Curcio of the Wilson Primary Center, Thomas DeMuro of Jefferson Elementary School, Abigail Emerson of Lincoln-Hubbard, Dana Folk of Washington, Dennis McLaughlin of Brayton, Keri Perrone of Franklin, Rozan and Ronald Wells of the high school.

Also honored was Alex Arias, student editor of Verve, the Summit High School newspaper, who acted as school board meeting correspondent during the 2013-2014 school year.

In introducing a presentation by district college specialist Alison Grill and Schnedeker, superintendent of schools Nathan Parker praised the outgoing guidance director for his many years of leadership in developing the guidance department, for finding the appropriate path for each student in guiding them to the future and for being one of the founders of PEP, Pride Through Educational Pursuits scholarship program.

In one of its many official actions at Thursday’s meeting, the education body appointed Laura Kaplan, who has been serving as chairwoman of the department of guidance and counseling services at Spotswood High School, to succeed Schnedeker.

The school board also approved ratification of its three-year contract with the Summit Principals’ Association.

In her presentation, Grill noted she had updated student profiles in Summit to give colleges a more clear idea of the academic and cultural atmosphere in the Summit schools that helped bring about the achievements cited in transcripts.

She added that, during the past year, she had completed individual and family counseling with 60 percent of the senior class and counselors in the guidance department had met with 80 percent of the senior class.

Other activities included: Application and essay workshops, college application assistance for students coming from underprivileged homes or for whose parents English was not the primary language, keeping students informed of important dates in the college application process through the Naviance online system, arranging 115 visits to the high school by college representatives, compared to 81 the previous year, and community networking through the Parent Teacher Organization, the Hispanic PTO, Speak Up Summit, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey and The Alternative Press.

Plans for next year include arranging college campus tours for eighth graders, affiliations with the Summit Medical Group “Careers in Medicine Program and revolving spring invents including the presentation of case studies.

In his presentation on college and career outcomes for Summit students, Schnedeker noted that, in results for the year thus far, 113 male Summit seniors and 115 females have been accepted in four-year colleges, with 16 in public institutions inside the state and 50 outside the state.

Among colleges rated by Barron’s as the most desired places of higher learning, 36.4 percent of Summit students were accepred, with 31.6 percent of the class of 2014 falling into that category.

Of 516 students applying, 195 have been accepted thus far this year.

In addition to colleges, Summit students also are chosing to attend music conservatories, musical, theater and art conservatories, art institutes, pharmacy schools and schools of physical therapy.

Geographical distribution among colleges includes 132 students attending in the Middle Atlantic states, 41 in New England, 16 in the Midwest and 32 in the South.

Schnedeker said complete outcomes statistics will be available shortly on the school district website.

The board also approved the Parker’s July 1, 2015 retirement as superintendent of schools and 2014-2015 employment contracts for the following administrators at the following annual salaries:

  • Assistant superintendent for business Louis Pepe-$183,719
  • Assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Julie Glazer-$164,699
  • Director of special education services Jane Kachmar-Desonne-$177,818
  • Assistant business administrator Donna Schneider-$103,994
  • Manager of buildings and grounds Angelo Palumbo-$100,313.

Parker also announced the district’s architects and other school officials will be available to discuss the district’s construction projects at Franklin School on Monday.


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