For most of us, Labor Day brings back memories of returning to school. New notebooks, pencils, and Back-to-School clothes were all laid out and ready to go for the next morning. While students now have access to technological devices that we never dreamed of, the emotions and feelings felt by students are the same today as they have always been. The night before the first day brings both butterflies in the stomach, and, most importantly - excitement. Excitement for the endless possibilities of the upcoming school year. For students and parents, as well as faculty and administrators, it’s this feeling of excitement that is the greatest.
I, too, experience all of these same feelings each year, and with being new to the Montville Township Public Schools District, I was especially aware of these emotions this year.
Just like the students, I was a little nervous. Coming to a new town, I had to learn new names and faces, navigate my way around the schools, and be exposed to many new first experiences throughout the district. But these feelings of butterflies were simultaneously met with the excitement of new possibilities.
In my first 100 days, I have identified another strong emotion in the Montville Township Public Schools - pride.
During the interview process, I conducted countless hours of research and spoke to many people about the Montville Township community and school system. All the feedback I received was positive and supported my resolve that this was the right district to work in.
As the new Superintendent, my first impressions of this excitement and pride have been affirmed. Over and over, I’ve heard from community members that Montville Township is a “hidden gem.” It has also been described to me as the “biggest small town in NJ.” I agree with these statements and I share that same pride. The excitement and pride for the Montville Township schools are palpable and I experience them on a daily basis.
In my first 100 days, I have witnessed:
- Parents sharing, in record numbers, first day photos of their smiling children to be posted on the district’s social media pages (so many that we are still posting them)
- Highly attended Back-To-School Nights where teachers shared innovative lessons and activities the students will be learning in classes this year
- Teachers teaching sensitive and age-appropriate lessons regarding September 11 and students showing their patriotism by enthusiastically wearing red, white, and blue
- An outstanding faculty and staff. Dedicated professionals who give their all daily to provide the best learning environment and experiences for students
- A creative administrative team that are leading the way with vision to support an education that will prepare students for their next endeavors in life
- Academic excellence including a national award in poetry, a congressional volunteer award, and a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist, to name just a few examples
- A devoted BOE who gives so much personal time for something in which they firmly believe. They are genuinely interested in offering a great education for all the students of the district
- Enthusiastic parent volunteers who donate many hours to help the schools provide programs and activities that enhance the students’ learning experiences
- A town that supports Friday Night Football games under the lights. These events are much more than football games. They radiate the pride in Montville Township and the excitement in district educational programs. The band performs their routines loud and proud, the cheerleaders present amazing acrobatics, the student section enthusiastically cheers on their classmates, elementary and middle school students join friends around the bleachers, parents run a very successful snack stand, and community members come together to share their stories of the week
In addition to these experiences, I have also met with Board of Education Trustees, town officials, parent/teacher organization presidents, parents, faculty and staff, and students.
As we move beyond my first 100 days, I am bringing with me all that I have learned from these experiences and conversations. Each has helped me identify and prioritize the tasks and goals needed to accomplish the vision of the district and provided me with an opportunity to understand and examine the values and culture of the district.
Excitement and pride are at the foundation of our success. With all of us -- BOE Trustees, faculty and staff, students and families, and the community -- working together to build on that foundation, we will help every student reach their fullest potential in a learning environment of the highest quality. Just as the first day of school brought the feeling of endless possibilities to each student for the year ahead, excitement and pride will help us to expand and embrace these possibilities on the 101st day and beyond.
-September 30, 2022
The "Superintendent's Column,"
by Dr. Thomas A. Gorman also appears in
"The Citizen" newspaper and on-line at "MontvilleTAP"