South Brunswick: Assistant Schools Superintendent Joanne Kerekes Retiring March 18

Outgoing Assistant Superintendent Joanne Kerekes briefs the Board of Education on PARCC testing Monday night. Credits: Charles W. Kim
Dr. Maribeth Edmunds Credits: District photo
New Monmouth Junction Principal Cristina Vildostegui-Cerra Credits: District photo

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – After 42 years in education, 25 of them here in the district, Assistant Superintendent Joanne Kerekes is calling it a career.

“Rather than have this be ‘whisper down the lane’ kind of news, I am writing to let you know that I have submitted advance notice to the Board of Education of my intent to resign for the purpose of retirement,” Kerekes said in a letter to the district staff on Feb. 19. “While my ‘official’ last day will come at a later date, my last day in the office will be March 18. I will not be returning after spring break.”

During her quarter century in South Brunswick, beginning in 1990, Kerekes held a variety of leadership positions including staff developer and as principal of four different schools at different educational levels, according to her biography on the district’s website.

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She became the assistant superintendent 11 years ago, replacing Willa Spicer.

Prior to coming to South Brunswick, Kerekes worked as a teacher, unit leader and project specialist in the East Windsor School District, according to her biography.

Kerekes declined to be interviewed about her departure, but provided a copy of her letter to the staff instead.

“I have been blessed to have a calling and career that I have loved for 42 years.  I mean, how lucky have I been?” her letter said. “The last 25 were spent in South Brunswick, and to say that this district has been like life blood to me doesn't even come close to what the students, staff, and community have meant.”

Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry Jellig also sent home a letter last week with his thoughts on Kerekes retirement, and told parents what plans were in place to name her replacement.

“As you may have heard, after 25 remarkable years in SB, and over 40 in public education, Joanne Kerekes has decided to retire from her position as ASfC,” Dr. Jellig said in his letter. “While I have been preparing for this eventually, if you know Joanne you realize her gifts are many and not easily replaceable. We thank her for her outstanding service to children and wish her well with what's next.”

Dr. Jellig said that he offered the position to Monmouth Junction Elementary School Principal Dr. Maribeth Edmunds.

“With humility and excitement she has accepted the challenge,” Dr. Jellig said. “She has extensive high school teaching experience, and is the right person for the immediate future we face.”

Although she will start filling in for Kerekes after March 18, she will officially begin her new assignment July 1, Dr. Jellig said.

According to her biography, Dr. Edmunds has been an educator for more than 25 years. She has devoted her career to student achievement, teacher professional development, and academic excellence in New Jersey's public schools.

Dr. Edmunds earned a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's in Reading Education from Montclair University, and completed a master's in Educational Administration from The College of New Jersey in 2001. She received her doctoral degree from Seton Hall University in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy in October 2007, according to her biography.

Like Kerekes, Dr. Edmunds filled a variety of administrative roles since joining the district first as an English teacher in 1992.

She was among the developers of the first performance assessment at the high school that received the NJASCD Curriculum Project Award in 1998.

At the Central Office, she served as the assistant to the superintendent, the affirmative action officer and later as director of professional development, according to the district.

In 2004, she was named to the State's Task Force on Mentoring. Her work on mentoring was published last year in the book, “The Reflective Mentor: Case Studies in Creating and Learning Partnerships.”

 Most recently, she led the district in an extensive training program called Tech Blitz 2006 and led Summer Institutes for teachers in Understanding by Design, Lesson Study and Differentiation of Instruction, according to the district.

She was named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers and was voted to the governance board of The Professional Development Network at TCNJ.

In the next part of the district’s personnel moves, Cristina Vildostegui-Cerra will be named principal of Monmouth Junction, Dr. Jellig said.

According to the district, Vildostegui- Cerra, or Mrs. V-C, as she is known to students and staff, began her teaching career in South Brunswick, where she has proudly served since 2005.

She has taught kindergarten, second grade, and instructional support as a member of the Deans, Brooks Crossing, and Cambridge school communities.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College, her teaching certification from the graduate-level program at Rider University, and a Master’s of Educational Administration from the University of Scranton, according to her biography.

Kerekes concluded her letter saying that she is anticipating the future outside of the district.

“When work is done, I’ll look ahead to my next ventures, personal and professional,” she said in the letter. “I am excited to see what’s in store.”

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