MONTCLAIR, NJ – Just over a month after the abrupt resignation of much maligned Montclair Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kendra Johnson, new interim super Dr. Nathan Parker began his first official day on the job Monday.
Johnson’s resignation request was formally accepted by the Montclair Board of Education during a public meeting on Monday, July 15. She submitted her official letter of resignation to Board President Eve Robinson on July 12.
The new super’s first day on August 19 included presiding over the board’s public meeting at the George Inness Annex Atrium.
“I would like you to know that the board members here all voted unanimously to approve (Dr. Parker’s) hiring and we are excited to be working with him,” said Board President Eve Robinson. “We already had an executive session (earlier in the evening) where he was very helpful to us. We look forward to the school year starting under his leadership.”
Parker served as Summit Public Schools Superintendent from 2008 to 2015. Under his leadership, the Summit schools earned recognition on a local, state and national level in academics, athletics, arts and community service.
He is anxious to get to work in Montclair, he announced.
“It is an honor to serve as your interim superintendent of schools,” said Dr. Parker. “I spent my first day meeting individually with most of the principals – I have three more to meet, and all of my meetings are at their school so I can get a first-hand look at each school.”
Prior to going to Summit, Parker was Superintendent for the Orange Public Schools from 2003 to 2008, where the district became a leader in universal Pre-K education, closed the ‘achievement gap,’ and piloted the New Jersey SEED program, which prepared low income students for the most competitive colleges in the country.
The Board anticipates that Parker’s leadership qualities will serve Montclair well during this important transition period.
“Over the next several days, the administrative leadership team will be having its annual retreat – in general, the retreat is designed to strengthen teamwork and leadership skills,” added Dr. Parker. “New staff will have a two-day workshop orientating them to district functions and expectations.”
From 1991 to 2003, Parker served as Superintendent of Schools for the Upper Saddle River Public School District. He created a strategic plan, Visions 2000: Upper Saddle River Schools to Believe In.
Having served in top positions in several different and diverse school districts, Parker’s valuable experience will be of great benefit to the members of the board and the entire school community in Montclair.
“Montclair Public Schools is a revered district as it has a long history of valuing and addressing the needs of a diverse school population,” Parker said. “I am grateful to have worked in rural, urban and suburban school districts. I am probably most passionate of my work in Orange where the graduation rate when I started my tenure was 50% and after five years later it was 72%.”
In an update regarding the Montclair High School staircase repairs, Jessica de Koninck stated that the Facilities Committee had an opportunity to tour the school immediately prior to Monday’s meeting.
“We are pleased with how well things are moving at the high school as all of the asbestos has been remediated,” said de Koninck. “All of the existing stair towers have been removed and all of the walls have been repaired. Two of the staircases are ready to have concrete poured which may happen as soon as Wednesday of this week.”
The district is on track to have both the staircase on Park Street and Midland Avenue open for the first day of school.
The other two staircases under construction will be open sometime in mid-October. Most of the high school building is expected to be functional for the first week of school.
Presiding over the meeting in addition to Parker and Robinson were Vice President Latifah Jannah, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Emidio D’Andrea, Priscilla Church, Anne Mernin, Alfred Davis and Jessica de Koninck.
The next public meeting of the board is Wednesday, September 4, 5:30 pm in the George Inness Annex Atrium. The meeting will go into closed session until approximately 7:30 pm when it will re-open to the public.