ROXBURY, NJ – Eisenhower Middle School Principal Dominick Miller was chosen this week to replace retiring Roxbury High School Principal Jeffrey Swanson.
The Roxbury school board, on Monday, approved the move. Miller will take the reins at the high school on July 1. A replacement for Miller has yet to be chosen.
Miller, 40, who started with Roxbury schools in 2007 and became Eisenhower’s principal in 2014, will earn $149,000, according to school board documents.
Roxbury School Board President Leo Coakley and Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic said Miller came out on top after a 16-member panel reviewed many applicants for the high school principal position.
“After the thing was posted, we got a large number of applications, about 47,” Coakley said. “We narrowed it down to something like eight that were interviewed … It was a large committee of about 16 people (doing the interviews) including board members, central office people and supervisors. It was a cross-section of the school community on the committee.”
“While we bid farewell to one principal, we welcome in another one,” said Radulic at Monday’s board meeting. “I want to make a point of stating that Mr. Miller earned this position due to his dedication, commitment, extensive knowledge and leadership skills. After two days of first-round interviews, it was clear that Mr. Miller was the leading candidate.”
Coakley said he is pleased with the choice of Miller. “I think Mr. Miller is a great choice and we are looking forward to great things from him,” Coakley said. “He did a tremendous job at Eisenhower Middle School. There were a lot of new things he introduced … We are looking forward to the same thing at the high school.”
"I am very excited to become the next principal at Roxbury High School," Miller said. "I know that I have very big shoes to fill, and I look forward to the challenge. I have been fortunate enough to get to know a large portion of the staff, and we have really great people there.
Miller said his personal philosophy "is that all students can succeed. They may succeed in different ways, but all students can succeed. The key to that success is our outstanding faculty and staff."
He characterized his leadership style as being "a bit of a hybrid," asserting he is "collaborative, democratic, serving." and adding, "I have been described as transformational. When appropriate I can be authoritative."
He said he loves "the community" of Roxbury. "It is a large town with a small town feel,' Miller said. "People genuinely care about each other. I have been able to foster positive relationships with students, parents, teachers, police and EMT. Roxbury cares about our kids and out schools, I am so happy to continue to be part of that community."
Retirement, Not Rest
Swanson, 63, served 15 years as principal of the high school and 41 years in public education, including 11 as a history teacher and coach.
As for post-retirement plans, Swanson expects to stay busy.
“I have a list of home projects longer than my arm,” he said in an mail. “Bucket list: Camping in as many U.S. national parks as possible, visit every state in the union to see the grandeur of the nation, see a baseball game in every major league ballpark (obviously all three of these can be done in conjunction with each other), go see a round at the Masters Golf Tournament, see a Kentucky Derby Race.”
But Swanson said his most important goal once July arrives is to spend time with his wife of 40 years, his five children and three grandchildren.
He was praised by Coakley as being a man who left his mark on the district.
“I really can’t do him justice,” Coakley said. “He always put students first. He treated students with respect. Every morning, he greeted them coming into the school. He is just highly respected and well loved by the school community.”
At the board meeting, Radulic said Swanson "has served faithfully … for 15 years and has brought continuity to the building and the programs, having seen the building through tough times as well as great times."
She said Swanson, during his tenure, “withstood and promoted” many changes in the district including “physical enhancements to the building itself with gardens, a security vestibule, new electronic signs, the Hall of Fame, various upgrades, room redesign to house Special Education programs and robotics among others.”
She also said Swanson oversaw changes in curriculum, a transition to block scheduling, changes to graduation and prom times and others.
“With new teacher evaluation protocols, changes in staff and district leadership, as well as changes in his own administrative team, Mr. Swanson has remained steadfast,” she said. “Through all of this, Mr. Swanson has remained an unfaltering leader, has been fondly named ‘Swan-daddy,’ has performed Bruce Springsteen songs at (mini)THON … and has provided many speeches at graduations, awards ceremonies, and Top Ten Dinners.”