Press Releases

ESCNJ Assistant Superintendent Molenaar Named 2018 Special Education Administrator of the Year

df53f09a6a5439d2a64d_Photo_2.jpg
(L-R) ESCNJ Supt. Mark J Finkelstein, Assist. Supt. Gary Molenaar, and Business Adm. Patrick M. Moran with Mr. Molenaar's 2018 Special Education Administrator Award plaque. Credits: Educational Services Commission of New Jersey
053d93c13c57d76086a7_ddddddddddd.jpg
ESCNJ Asst. Superintendent Gary Molenaar was named the 2018 Special Education Administrator of the Year by the NJASA and the NJASPA. Credits: Educational Services Commission of New Jersey
df53f09a6a5439d2a64d_Photo_2.jpg

NEW JERSEY - Assistant Superintendent for the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ), Gary Molenaar, has  been named the “2018 Special Education Administrator of the Year” in an award co-sponsored by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) and the New Jersey Association of Pupil Services Administrators (NJAPSA). The award recognizes a special education administrator who has demonstrated “outstanding leadership in providing services to students with special needs, and whose work reflects the highest professional and ethical standards,” according to the NJASA. Mr. Molenaar received the award at the organizations 36th Annual Spring Leadership Conference.

The award includes a $500 contribution to the ESCNJ from Frontline Education, an educational software firm based in Malvern, PA.  The $500 award will be given to an ESCNJ graduate to help offset the cost of transitioning to independent living, said Superintendent Mark J. Finkelstein, who hired Mr. Molenaar in 2011.

Molenaar said he was “deeply honored to be recognized in such a positive way by my colleagues.”

Sign Up for E-News

The selection committee included educators from every county in New Jersey, and based its choice on several factors, including “exemplary contributions” to the special education field, “effective use of technology” with special needs students, “respect of colleagues,” and “dedication to students with disabilities and their families.”

Recommendations from educators were also considered. Finkelstein cited Molenaar’s “immense knowledge-base, willingness to share information, and most importantly, his continued passion to improve the lives of students.”

Bergen County Special Services Superintendent Howard Lerner, Ed.D. wrote that he “could not think of a more deserving, dedicated, motivated, knowledgeable, and honest colleague to receive this prestigious award.”

Incoming Fair Lawn Public Schools Superintendent Nicholas J. Norcia described Molenaar as “a pillar in the special education community, whose passion to do what is best for students is commendable.”

Molenaar said technology has had a dramatic impact in the special education field, adding, “as significant as these advances are, they will always require effective implementation by teachers and administrators.”

Having served in the field for over two decades, Molenaar said acceptance of special needs students has grown in part due to enforcement of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) laws.

“More students with disabilities work alongside general education students when feasible, which enhances awareness and acceptance of this population,” he said.

“When I went to school, students were often placed in a separate building or segregated from general education students in the same building. The situation today is not perfect, but we are moving in the right direction.”

Molenaar said participation in professional development workshops and collaborating with colleagues have been important factors over the course of his career.

“Many people have expertise in special education, but nobody has all the answers,” he said.

“Like general education, special education is a two-way street.  There are always things to learn from each other.”

As ESCNJ Assistant Superintendent,Molenaar has been responsible for several initiatives including:

  • The Pathways to Adult Living (PAL) program, which is for students 18-21 who have fulfilled their high school requirements but require more independent living life support. 
  • Personalized learning for students in conjunction with daily use of Google Chromebooks.
  • Introducing Robotics and Computer Coding into the curriculum for higher functioning students.
  • Creation of a Special Education Review Service for districts statewide to assist in preparing for state monitoring, or for an objective evaluation of their programs and services.
  • Expanding ESCNJ’s collaboration with the New Brunswick Public Schools. Beginning in September, three special education classes will be led by ESCNJ teachers. As a result, many New Brunswick students will have their needs met in their home district, rather than being bused to costly, out of district private special education schools.

Molenaar said people looking to work in the special education field, must have “an unconditional positive regard for all students, excellent communication skills, and problem solving abilities. Ultimately, the individual must be a tireless, dedicated educator who can manage complex and potentially litigious situations in a professional manner, and continuously strive to do what is in the best interest of students.”

 The ESCNJ operates six Middlesex County schools for student’s ages 3-21 with autism, multiple disabilities, and at-risk behaviors, in addition to providing special education services to school districts statewide. The largest Educational Services Commission in New Jersey, the ESCNJ also coordinates transportation services for over 10,000 students across the state, and manages a 1,200 member Co-op Pricing System, the largest cooperative buying program in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Milltown/Spotswood

Mayors Push for Law Permitting Driver's License for Immigrants

July 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY, NJ - Five mayors from northern and central New Jersey today called for passage of a state law permitting immigrants to get driver's licenses even if they are undocumented, saying it boosts public safety as well as the economy.

"This is important for every resident for a better life and a better life for the state of New Jersey," said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda ...

Franklin Township: Danielsen Sponsors New Medical Marijuana Bill

July 20, 2018

SOMERSET, NJ - Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D), who represents the 17th District in New Jersey State Assembly, recently unveiled his sponsorship of Assembly No. 10, a bill revising the requirements to authorize and access medical marijuana.

This announcement comes in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s plans to open six more dispensaries claimed to help better serve New Jersey’s ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Carousel_image_0a79b254f45583c80861_048

Wed, August 22, 8:30 AM

American Legion Post 253, Spotswood

Bus Trip to AC Air Show

Giving Back Other

Wed, August 22, 8:30 AM

American Legion Post 253, Spotswood

Bus Trip to AC Air Show

Pinkin Vows to Fight for Clean Water at Jersey Water Works Event

July 20, 2018

HAMILTON, NJ - Speaking to a crowd of about 110 people at Jersey Water Works’ annual membership meeting on Thursday, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex), who chairs the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, spoke about New Jersey’s mounting obligation to update the state’s water infrastructure and to provide all New Jersey residents with clean drinking ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

July 14, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)

 

Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see Little perform at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where he has been doing his uncanny ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...