PARAMUS, N.J. — Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Robinson may be departing Paramus’ pre-k through 12 district, but the schools will be delighted to see a familiar face walking the hallways in her place come September.
Assistant Superintendent and longtime Paramus district employee Sean Adams has been promoted to Superintendent effective Wednesday, July 1. According to the resolution outlining his appointment, which trustees passed unanimously during their June 15 board meeting, Adams will serve in the role through at least the next five years until June 30, 2025. His starting annual salary is $207,000.
The Ho-Ho-Kus resident and father of one first came to the district in the late 1990s shortly after graduating high school in Warren Township in Somerset County. While enrolled at Montclair University and working towards a bachelor of arts degree in English with a concentration in Education, Adams would attend education courses at Paramus High School via a partnership with the university, which had a specialized cohort of teachers who were provided professional development. It was during this internship that unearthed his love for the district, which would endure nearly two decades later.
"When I was going through the Montclair State partnership with Paramus School system at age 19, [I witnessed] the positive energy that flows through the school system, the staff, the teachers, the secretaries, the transportation... everybody really functions as a very large family in Paramus with huge hearts and devotion to the kids,” recalled Adams. "The school community, everyone has a common sense of vision and purpose. There is no real downtown. As a town, the schools really function as the metaphorical center of that town and contributed to the overall togetherness and community.”
He continued, "Paramus is my second home… my vision has always been, 'I’m starting in Paramus and I’m ending in Paramus.’”
Adams embarked on his career with the Paramus school district in 2001 working as an English teacher. Later that decade, he was appointed Lead Teacher, a role in which he served as a liaison between the administration and the teaching staff in addition to developing vision and strategy for education. In 2010, after earning his administrative certification from Montclair, he was tapped the supervisor of secondary education, overseeing curriculum development and instructional strategies for both the middle and high school in the subjects of math, science, and language arts, for the next two years.
From 2012-2015, Adams served as assistant superintendent to Ken Rota until Rota left the Paramus district to serve in the same capacity in Fort Lee. While the Board of Education searched for his replacement, Adams served as acting superintendent until Robinson was tapped the district chief in 2015.
Robinson is leaving the district to serve as the schools superintendent of Elko County, Nevada to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.
Adams said he is most looking forward to involving stakeholders from parents to students in the district’s approach to the forthcoming reopening of borough schools following the March closures given the Coronavirus pandemic -- a feat he plans to undertake while "keeping in mind the unique needs of our students, our families, and our staff, and how we can work together to continue to deliver education.”
Another goal going forward, Adams said, is ensuring the success of various backup plans in preparation of another statewide school closure given the possibility of a second wave of a Coronavirus outbreak. This includes continuing the district's "robust transition" of its district-wide one-to-one laptop initiative, which has seen success given its recent expansion among the kindergarten through second-grade students.
Covid-19 aside, considering the current national affairs and the nationwide protests sparked following the death of George Floyd, and the one staged at Paramus High School this past month after a slew of “racially-charged” messages circulated by juniors leaked to authorities, Adams said he’s eager to look into incorporating more social justice learning experiences for students.
“I’m really eager about moving full force into looking at, and tackling as a town, issues of race and gender, sexual orientation, and really beginning to start taking a strong look at how we as a district can lead the way looking at the overall system of education — both within the school and outside the school walls — what it means in the world today to embrace all people.”
He said this can be achieved through collaborating with local community-based organizations on respect-based initiatives both in and out of school, and researching what forward-thinking districts around the world are doing to incorporate this kind of learning experience.
“One of my long-range visions for the district is enhancing the collaborative partnerships with resources in the community,” he added. “We’re primed in Paramus, because we have an incredibly strong resource of local business, non-profit and for-profits. We’re looking at educating students to prepare them for life in a world as adults in a world that is going to look different in five years. We need to be creative in establishing different opportunities to prepare our students to be successful in that ever-changing environment."