LAMBERTVILLE, NJ - Anthony Suozzo was named in March as the new superintendent for the South Hunterdon Regional School District.
He spoke to TAP about his background and plans for the coming school year.
TAP: Superintendent Suozzo, can you share some of your background information?
Suozzo: I have spent the last 23 years working in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District. During my time in Hopewell Valley, I served as a high school health and physical education teacher, middle school vice principal, middle school principal, Director of Human Resources and most recently as the Assistant Superintendent of Schools.
TAP: The biggest question people have is about returning to school. I know you have to wait for the DOE guidance, but I see there is a Return to School Committee that is preparing for 3 scenarios. What other challenges does this committee face that readers might have interest in?
Suozzo: We received guidance from the NJDOE on Friday, June 26. Here is a link for your reference: NJDOE Guidelines Our Return to School Committee consists of 35 individuals - Superintendent, Administrators, Teachers, School Nurses, Teacher’s Association President, School Counselors, Maintenance/Custodial Staff, Parents, School Physician, and Board Attorney. Beyond the three scenarios there is a great deal to consider and plan for in order to have students and staff safely return to school. We have six sub-committees that are focusing on the following areas: Governance, Instruction, Health/Wellness, Facilities, Operations and Technology. Planning for things like PPE, social distancing requirements of six feet in classrooms and common spaces, transportation, student and staff mental health as they deal with the COVID crisis as well as addressing any learning gaps students might have from remote learning.
TAP: Can you give people an update on the track construction? The prediction for 2020-21 school sports in general?
Suozzo: The track project is nearly complete, and we expect to have the track and field space available for September.
In reference to the sports for the 2020-2021 school year, the NJSIAA released guidelines for the upcoming fall season. NJSIAA Guidelines. They are taking a three-phase approach. We are following these guidelines to ensure our student athletes and coaches remain safe. We recently sent out our guidelines to parents, SHRSD Phase 1 Guidelines. At the moment we are looking forward to our fall season beginning so that our student athletes have an opportunity to interact in person with their teammates.
TAP: Parents were asked to take a survey about their online learning experiences. If you read the results, what was your general impression?
Suozzo: Overall I think the two common themes from the parent and student survey was that if we have to once again use remote learning, it would need more structure and face to face interaction using zoom with students and teachers. If at any point during the 2020-2021 school year we need to go on remote learning, live instruction will take place every day in each class with attendance taken. The goal will be to replicate the classroom experience as much as we possibly can.
TAP: With the current events going on, I saw there was a "minority studies" program being developed for juniors and seniors. Will this be an elective or required course?
Suozzo: This will be an elective course. Equity will be one of our district goals for the next several school years. It is really important that we provide opportunities in the future for our students to have a voice, so they can help us advocate and educate our school community in the area of equity. For the upcoming school year we will be looking to create procedures to eliminate any barriers that may exist so that all students can participate and experience success in high quality curricular and extracurricular programs. We will also be looking to add diversity to our staff in the coming years. The district recently joined CJPRIDE (www.cjpride.com) to improve our staff diversity.