TAPinto Westfield Profile: Get to Know Margaret Dolan, Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Margaret Dolan is the first woman to serve Westfield as superintendent of schools. Credits: Westfield Public Schools

WESTFIELD, NJ — Dr. Margaret Dolan, the first woman to serve Westfield as superintendent of schools, assumed that  responsibility 11 years ago when she stepped into that role at the end of Dr. William Foley’s reign.

Foley gave a ringing endorsement of his successor.

“Margaret Dolan is first and foremost a great educator who, in whatever position she has held, has always been fully committed to children. She’ll never hesitate to do what she feels is best for them,” he said. “Westfield schools are indeed fortunate to have such an outstanding superintendent.”

Sign Up for E-News

Before becoming superintendent, Dolan was assistant superintendent for human resources from 2001-2005 and then curriculum and instruction from 2005-2007.

With more than 30 years of experience in all phases of education, Dolan first served Westfield as principal of Franklin School from 1996 to 2001. But before administrative positions, the Jersey City native taught music in Bayonne, Irvington and Scotch Plains public schools in the 70s and 80s. Also an accomplished pianist and harpist, she has given private instruction in both instruments.  

“I love one-on-one,” she said. “Each student presents an individual challenge.”

And she welcomes challenges.

“Westfield is very fortunate to have her as superintendent,” Gail Cassidy, former president of the board of education, said.  “We rarely see any negatives in the press regarding her decisions. Why?  Because she listens, she is objective and she is open to new ideas. What more could we ask?”

Sitting in her cheerful corner office in the original Westfield High School (1951 was the last graduating class before the Dorian Road location opened), Dolan was accompanied by Mary Ann McGann, who was then three weeks into her position as coordinator of school and community relations.

“I'm here to learn more about Dr. Dolan,” McGann said.  So were we.

Margaret Dolan, Ed.D, earned her B.A. in Music Education from Rutgers, Douglass College, and her doctorate in Educational Administration from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. She also attended advanced learning conferences at Harvard, Columbia and Seton Hall in recent years

While the educator has been immersed in her demanding position, her husband, Rich Lamb, has his own demanding schedule. Known as “the dean of reporters” at WCBS NewsRadio 880, he just celebrated his 40th anniversary with the station last month, covering everything from City Hall to news around the globe.

To serve the approximately 6,300 students attending Westfield’s K-12 classes, Dolan's responsibilities include overseeing a $100 million budget; hiring, firing and managing a staff of over 800; and providing a comprehensive education to all students to reach their maximum potential. In that regard, she said that 95 percent of Westfield students pursue a higher education.  

As superintendent, she is also responsible for student safety.

Just after last month's shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Dolan introduced a security presentation by contractor Errol Brudner from StoneGate Associates, the firm hired by the Westfield school district, at a board of education meeting.

“We know every parent has to be touched by the shootings,” Dolan acknowledged for this interview. “We know that the world of schools had changed since Columbine and Newtown. We already had new procedures in place before the latest shooting. We’ve changed access to schools with the installation of security cameras and panic buttons which immediately alert staff and the PD.

“We are working with law enforcement at the local, county and state levels, also with the FBI as well as security consultants,” she continued. “Now we have specific drills for lockdowns, active shooter drills and how to shelter in place. Everything is done in conjunction with the experts to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

She explained that schools were closed recently for two days so that teachers, counselors, special eucation and staff members could participate in discussions on topics related to professional development. They also touched on wellness issues, which she described as “an important topic in our society,”  as well as the development of new teacher webpages.  She promised that when school opens in September, “We'll have a new website.”

Despite the harsh realities schools across the nation face, Dolan said, “I’m encouraged to see 6-year-olds still excited about learning. They love their teachers and they’re especially enthusiastic about science projects.”

She spoke about a new innovative “inquiry method” appropriate to science for elementary students that’s designed to stimulate the learning process. When they are presented with a science experiment, children are encouraged to describe what they have observed and to ask pertinent questions. This interactive exploration aids in the retention of subject matter, she said.

Connecting with parents is also very important to Dolan, which she said is what inspired her to write a letter to parents in the wake of the recent school shooting, assuring them that Westfield schools are making every effort to strengthen safety precautions to keep students as safe and to provide helpful resources when dealing with the emotional issues related to the recent tragedy.

In recent weeks, Dolan joined with Mayor Shelley Brindle, Town Administrator Jim Gildea, School Business Administrator Dana Sullivan, BOE President Gretchan Ohlig, and BOE Vice President Peggy Oster to share concerns and suggestions for coordination between the schools, town, police and town council to address school safety issues and communication protocols.

Though there’s been violence elsewhere in the nation, Dolan has an overall optimistic outlook:  “Our students are still going to change the world. We have to continue to have that hopeful expectation.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Linden Man Arrested After Explosion in Cranford

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ — An explosion heard in Cranford Wednesday has led to the arrest of 26-year old Michael Kossup of Linden, NJ, according to authorities. Kossup has been charged with Possession of Prohibited Destructive Devices (3rd Degree); Possession of Under 50g (Marijuana); and Possession of Paraphernalia. 

On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 19

June 22, 2018

I opened the Board meeting on a somber note, announcing the death of sophomore student Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel.  Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over his death.  We extend our condolences to the Uziel family.  I noted that school counselors are available for all students or staff who may wish to discuss their feelings ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden


Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...



Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Westfield Police Blotter: Criminal Mischief to Vehicles Continues & More

June 20, 2018

June 13, 2018 9:24 a.m.

Officer Santangelo arrested Hakan Kaya, age 46, of Westfield, New Jersey on an outstanding warrant (#E19490) in the amount of $304.00 out of Neptune City Municipal Court pursuant to turning himself in at WPD Headquarters. Subject was processed and released after posting the full bail amount.


June 13, 2018 11:02 a.m.

Lieutenant McFarlean and Officer ...

Summer Foreign Festival to kick off at Westfield Memorial Library

June 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ – The Summer Foreign Film Festival kicks off at the Westfield Memorial Library on Monday, July 2 with all films showing at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The library is located at 550 East Broad St.

On the roster is “A Fantastic Woman” on July 2 (Spanish, 104 minutes); “The Fencer” on July 16 (Estonian, 99 minutes); “The Women’s Balcony” ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

Understand the New Law for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is now the law in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a paid sick leave law which preempts paid sick leave ordinances adopted by several cities and towns so there is now one uniform law in this area for New Jersey employers. Here is what you need to know about the new law.

33 Homes Sold June 10 to June 17 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Thirty-three Homes sold from June 10 to June 17, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*


TOWN         ADDRESS                      STYLE    ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...


In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...


AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more