SOMERVILLE,, NJ – Timothy Purnell, Ph.D., Superintendent of Somerville Public Schools, has been named Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents.
A native of Montville, Purnell had previously been named 2015 NJ Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year and is a member of the Montville Hall of Fame.
Purnell credits his success to a broad support network in the Somerville school district.
“This award isn’t about me, it’s about the work of everyone in my district,” he said. “Ideas are great, but every great idea requires strategic implementation.
In order to promote stakeholder involvement, Purnell started #allin4theVille on Twitter and he hosts an annual Super's Bowl Community Investment Day to celebrate partnerships and bring the community together.
As a means of providing school leaders with statistical data to drive instruction and educational decisions, Purnell has implemented "Purpose-Driven Walkthroughs.” These walkthroughs assess the leader's progress towards achieving their "Wildly Important Goals" (WIGs). Stakeholders can visit the District Dashboard from the district homepage, which displays gauges that measure building progress towards each of the WIGs.
Another prominent achievement is the 3DPD, a three-dimensional professional development program. This professional development program is designed for teachers by teachers and features modeling of exceptional practices by in-district teachers.
“Classroom educators can share classroom best practices by uploading videos on a private channel,” Purnell said. “This portal allows teachers round-the-clock access to professional development.”
Purnell believes continuous education for his teachers, as well as recognizing the hard work of his employees, is incredibly important.
In order to meet the needs of all students in grades nine through twelve, the district launched a separate non-traditional, competency-based high school where students begin their day at 9:30 a.m. with breakfast and educational experiences in a blended environment. The program is hallmarked by opportunities for credit recovery and graduation on a rolling basis.
Purnell also believes in providing students with opportunities to apply learning through real world experiences as they plan for life after high school and college. A central focus of this experiential learning is to provide at-risk students with positive role roles; his approach pairs students with school and community members to support and mentor them.
“You need to #getoffyourisland and collaborate with stakeholders and community organizations,” Purnell said. “Public schools need to partner with outside agencies to assist in providing the optimal learning experience for every child."
“Leadership is incredibly important as we see public education evolving nationwide,” said David Brown, executive director of the National Association of School Superintendents. “Schools serve as the focal point of thousands of communities nationwide, and we need educators that have put programs in place to put students first.”
Purnell was named Suburban District Superintendent of the Year and Cedrick Gray, Ph.D. of Jackson (MS) Public Schools was named Urban School Districts Superintendent of the Year.