CAMDEN, NJ—Camden City School District's Deputy Superintendent and city native Katrina McCombs was named the district's acting superintendent Thursday in a hearing before the New Jersey State Board of Education.
McCombs will replace Paymon Rouhanifard, who was appointed superintendent by former governor Chris Christie shortly after the state's take over of the school district in 2013, and who in April announced his decision to step down, officially leaving the school district earlier this month.
The Department of Education is expected to launch a national search for a permanent State Superintendent for the Camden City School District, and McCombs plans to apply for the permanent role.
In a message posted on the CCSD website Thursday, McCombs wrote, "My heart has belonged to the teachers and students of this district since I first stepped into Mickle Elementary School as a shy little girl however many years ago. To now have the privilege of leading our City’s schools along the path to dramatically raising student achievement is the honor of a lifetime."
McCombs, a Camden native, graduated from Camden High School in 1987, and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from Lehigh University and masters degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers University. She has served in the school district as a kindergarten teacher, literacy coach, principal, and early childhood director, and most recently serving as deputy superintendent under Rouhanifard.
“Katrina is a graduate of our district, and has been serving our students for over 24 years,” said Kathryn Blackshear, president of the CCSD Advisory Board of Education. “Our schools are getting better, but we are not there yet. Katrina has the experience, insight, and passion to help our kids succeed. She cares so much about our students, because she was in their shoes not so long ago. The advisory board, and the whole city, are behind her.”
"I have witnessed the many obstacles our children must overcome before they can focus on their education. My team and I will work hard to address these barriers, and give all students in our City the support they need to succeed in the classroom, college, or a meaningful career," McCombs said in a statement. "Over the summer, my top priority will be to meet with families, staff, community leaders, and students from across the city to hear what is working, and what we need to do better. We will only be successful for our students if we work together.”
McCombs said she will announce dates for a community listening tour shortly.