GREEN BROOK, NJ – Kevin Carroll began his tenure as superintendent of Green Brook Township Public Schools in September 2014. Over the past 18 months, has dedicated his 23 years of education experience to strengthening the district’s already strong academic, athletic, technological and extracurricular foundation.
“Here, we are in the business of learning. At IEF Elementary, our motto is ‘Learn to Learn’ and, when you go up to the middle school, it is ‘Be Self Directed.’ We don't only want that for our students. We want it for our teachers, our staff and our community,” Carroll said.
Carroll graduated from Toms River North High School, played soccer at Ocean County Community College (OCCC) and joined the Army Reserves while serving as a combat engineer and pursing his associate’s degree in criminal justice at OCCC. In 1988, Carroll went on to attend Rider University on an Army ROTC scholarship and played Division 1 soccer for the Broncs.
A torn ACL left Carroll sidelined but he secured a Board of Trustees Scholarship from the Lawrenceville school. Although he had a love of art – Carroll can draw, paint and sculpt – and first considered becoming a police officer, Carroll went on to earn first a bachelor’s in political science/pre-law and then a master’s in educational administration.
From 1993 to 1999, Carroll was employed at the Cedar Creek School in the Lacey Township School District. During his first year, he served as a first grade teacher and over the next three years worked with a co-teacher to develop and implement a multiage, inclusion/looping program for first-second grade and third-fourth grade students.
“Our philosophy was to recreate the one-room schoolhouse where we could teach everyone together. We created a mentor-mentee relationship with the children … We taught to the child and went deeper into the curriculum,” said Carroll, who during his last year with Lacey Township, filled a long-term substitute elementary supervisor position at Cedar Creek that enabled him to write K-8 curriculum, handle disciplinary issues and concentrate on professional development for the faculty and staff.
Looking to parlay his experiences as an elementary supervisor into a permanent administration role, Carroll in 1999 took on a vice principal position at Flemington-Raritan Regional School District’s Francis A. Desmares Elementary School and, in 2002, served as acting principal at the district’s Barley Sheaf Elementary School. In 2003, he went on to become principal in the Lakehurst School District and, in 2005, was named superintendent of the pre-K through eighth grade district.
Four years later, Carroll was hired as superintendent of the Clinton Township School District and from 2009 to 2012 dedicated his time and talent to implement online curriculum; redefine and expand the inclusion program; implement an online IEP program; create a Students Understanding Core Content and Exceeding State Standards (SUCCESS) program to expand basic skills instruction; and facilitate the creation of a five-year strategic plan while also working to reduce the district’s operating budget and ensure the first successful passage of the school district’s budget in six years.
Carroll left Clinton to serve in 2012 to serve as Chief School Administrator for the pre-K through 8th grade Netcong School District and, over the next two years, worked to provide Chromebooks for all middle school students; expand the Interdistrict Public School Choice program; implement online curriculum and a new English Language Arts series as well as a new student information system and parent portal; and initiate a regional articulation group while also creating the position of director of curriculum & instruction for the for sending districts.
Carroll arrived in Green Brook at the start of the 2014-2015 school year, replacing Dr. Richard Labby who left to take on the superintendent position in Sayerville. “The first thing I did when I got here was look around and ask a lot of questions about the things we were doing so that I could identify areas that needed to be strengthened because they were researched-based and effective,” he said.
Over the past year and a half, he has dedicated much of his time to strengthening the Green Brook’s Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop program (a process of learning focused on practice and teacher feedback); inclusion (classes with both a special and general education teacher); and response to intervention (an approach to academic and behavioral intervention for all students –special needs, general education, and gifted and talented).
Additionally, Carroll also hired a technology coordinator who worked to implement the district-wide use of Google Apps for Education, saving Green Brook thousands of dollars in server, licensing, software and antivirus fees. This move also enabled the district to, in just three short months, provide 1-to-1 Chromebooks prior to the 2015 PARCC exams.
“Our teachers were able to have them in hand and help students practice in the months prior to the test,” said Carroll, adding that the move to Google Apps didn't cost the district any additional money, “It all came down to looking into where the money already was and where it would be better invested.”
The superintendent said he is aware of all his teachers do and how much they give back to Green Brook schools and feels that should be acknowledged. “The old adage is that teachers only work seven hours a day and that they only work 180 days a year. That isn’t true. I have teachers who come early, I have teachers who stay late, and I have teachers who do both,” he said, adding, “We have teachers who are constantly working on their craft and who are master teachers.”
He continued, “When you look back at your time in school you don't remember what you learned as much of how you learned or how you felt when you learned. There is a whole emotional attachment and if I can breakdown any of the worries or concerns my teachers have I know they can be more available to their students.”
According to Carroll, numerous factors determine what makes a school district effective and feels the most successful are those that have a board of education dedicated and focused on student achievement. “We are really fortunate. Our board of education is so pro-teacher, so pro-education. They really are great teammates and come from diverse backgrounds that bring so much to the table,” he said, adding, “[Our] board of education is dedicated in investing in our staff and our students, doing whatever they can to attract and retain the best of the best.”
Carroll said what he loves most about education is that it breaks down all class systems. “Education really gives anyone the ability to rise above their current station,” he said. “The true reward of the job is that ‘aha moment’ with a child when they totally get it or blow you away with their prospective and understanding.”
With over two decades in education and having worked in Ocean, Hunterdon, Morris and now Somerset County, Carroll said Green Brook is where he wants to be. “I would love to retire here,” he said, noting that he is impressed with how tight-knit and committed Green Brook’s residents are.
“Many of our board members and parents grew up and went to school here and are now raising their own children in town,” he said. “They were so moved by their experiences here that they chose to stay and raise their families here. That sets up a legacy and really says something about a community. I love that sense of tradition.”
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