WEST ORANGE, NJ – After reviewing more than 60 resumes over the course of six months, the West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) unanimously voted to appoint Dr. J. Scott Cascone as the new Superintendent of West Orange Public Schools on Wednesday.
Cascone, who will be the first bilingual (English/Spanish) superintendent in West Orange’s history, is set to officially start his four-year contract on July 15, 2019.
According to an informational flyer given out during Wednesday’s township meeting, Cascone comes to the community with more than 20 years of experience in educational leadership and instructional experience. His experience includes being a department supervisor for Social Studies, World Language and English as a Second Language (ESL), and working as a building and central office administrator.
Most recently, Cascone served as the Executive Director of Academics at Old Bridge Township Schools, overseeing curriculum, instruction and assessment for a district that has 16 schools, 9,000 students and 900 staff members. Cascone has also previously held positions as the assistant principal at Morris Hills Regional High School and the Director of Personnel, High School Principal, and Interim Elementary School Principal at Westwood Regional School District.
Cascone also possesses several years of instructional experience at all school levels, teaching ESL and Spanish at Manchester Regional High School, Dwight Englewood School and at the Ministry of Public Education in Costa Rica, Central America. He has also taught English as a Foreign Language as part of World Teach, a Harvard University Institute for International Development Program. Additionally, Cascone has experience coaching boys and girls varsity soccer.
Cascone said that he is excited to bring his expertise and leadership to West Orange and that based on feedback from members of the community, teachers, administrators and the board, he feels confident that West Orange “is a community that’s looking to move forward.”
As he prepares to lead a district that has nearly 7,000 students and approximately 1,000 staff members, Cascone said it is important to consider the idea behind President John F. Kennedy’s words, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” He elaborated that the community needs to rediscover the “idea of service.”
In a separate statement, Cascone said that leadership is about “service to others” and that “a leader must work tirelessly to create optimal conditions for students and staff.”
Cascone continued that his appointment as superintendent “will certainly stand out in [his] life as a milestone” and that he is proud to share this milestone with his family, which includes his parents, John and Norma Cascone; his wife, Diana; and his three daughters, Gabriella, Sophia and Nora.
He continued that his family’s presence is symbolic of a message that he wishes to send to everyone in the West Orange community: that “behind every successful person, there’s a support network of people” and that West Orange is no different because the school district can continue to do more to “assist parents, to be that support that their children need and of course supporting our teachers.”
Cascone also said that he looks forward to working with Acting Superintendent Eveny de Mendez, “capitalizing on the expertise that she brings.” He continued that de Mendez, “having served as a superintendent for some time, will be invaluable to [him].”
Board President Alper thanked all parents, staff, students and community members who took part in the superintendent selection process and attended the recent meet-and-greet events.
“Plus, all of you who Emailed us, who came to meetings and forums, who stopped us in ShopRite and at the gym, we could not have done this without your input,” he said.
The board also thanked all staff members who took on acting roles to help the district “keep moving forward with a minimum of disruption.” Alper added that Eveny de Mendez has “stepped up to the plate” since becoming the acting superintendent last fall and that over the course of nine months, the district was “able to make significant [progress] this year on a number of long-standing initiatives” and as a result has made “some fantastic groundwork for Dr. Cascone.”
De Mendez will be returning to her previous role as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for West Orange Schools.
Board member Terry Trigg-Scales commended de Mendez for leading the district through difficult times “all the while with grace and confidence.”
“Leading a school district this size is not for the faint of heart,” said Trigg-Scales, adding that thanks to de Mendez’s direction, the district is “in a good place heading for greatness.”
Speaking to Dr. Cascone, Trigg-Scales expressed her delight on his appointment.
“I am delighted that you are our new superintendent,” she said. “What I’ve come to learn about you is that you are an excellent educator, a leader among leaders, and a compassionate and caring individual who has vision for excellence. Welcome home.”