By Saul Qersdyn
ROSELLE PARK — A nine month search by the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) ended a little after 7 a.m. Tuesday morning when the eight Board members present unanimously voted to approve Pedro Garrido as the district’s new superintendent during a special meeting in the Roselle Park High School (RPHS) auditorium. BOE member Troy Gerten was not present due to previous work commitment.
BOE President Chris Miller started his comments by saying, “This is the first significant step to help ensure the most optimal situation of getting our new superintendent in district; listening, learning, and getting acclimated. The sooner the better for him, the Board, the administration, staff, and our children.”
Mr. Miller thanked Superintendent Search Committee members Barbara Sokol, Loren Harms, and Scott Nelson, as well as New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) Union County representative Gwen Thornton and BOE attorneys Anthony Sciarrillo & Jennifer Osborne for all their work in a process that included – at one point – the Board not accepting any of the original candidates and conducting a new search. The final stage in selecting Mr. Garrido involved a committee of four (4) BOE members visiting Anna L. Klein School.
Mr. Miller mentioned a few of the criteria the Board had regarding the critical issues facing the district which included changing demographics and competition from the Union County Magnet School. The Board President highlighted some of incoming Superintendent Pedro Garrido’s qualities such as his background training, being actively involved in the community and educational life, his leadership style of leading by example, caring personality, and devotion to duty.
“I feel Mr. Garrido is an excellent choice for the superintendent for Roselle Park because he is passionate, committed, hard-working and willing to learn,” Mr. Miller concluded, “These are ingredients for success; not only for Mr. Garrido, but for the Board, the administration, the staff, and, most important, the students of Roselle Park.”
Incoming Superintendent Pedro Garrido was the principal of Anna L. Klein School in Guttenberg, NJ for the last seven years. Having been in the same district for 29 years, he started out as a 4th grade ESL/bilingual teacher and taught 4th and 5th grade for 11 years. He then became a guidance counselor for another 11 years before becoming the principal of the school he first attended when came to the United States as a ten-year old Cuban immigrant.
“I definitely feel very comfortable here,” Mr. Garrido said, speaking publicly for the first time, “I see that you value children’s education and that has been the key element in my drive in education. Children come first . . . I do hold high standards and I do hold high expectations. I truly believe that every child can learn. Obviously, there are limitations but every child can learn . . . We all can work together to become the best district.”
Mr. Garrido continued by stating that he has always felt that one cannot lead in a vacuum and that he is open to ideas from the Board, administrators, and staff. Praising retiring superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti for all his work up to this point, Mr. Garrido said he hopes to continue that work and that he has high expectations and hefty goals which includes bringing the community together for the betterment of the education of Roselle Park’s children.
“Together is my theme,” remarked Mr. Garrido, “I’m looking forward to working together, working strong, and working as hard as we can to give the children of Roselle Park the best education that we possibly can.”
After the meeting, retiring superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti commented, “I think the Board made a great choice and I wish [Mr. Garrido] well. I look forward to chatting with him next week. I’m going to be meeting with him next week to talk about some transition stuff but I think they made a very good choice.”
Mr. Garrido answered some questions regarding his focus on improving Language Arts and Math as principal, two areas by which the state measures education. He stated, “Three years ago our math scores were low. We did improve quite a bit and what we did three years ago is we changed the curriculum. We added more extended classes for math after school. We really focused on that. Now we’re doing the same for Language Arts.”
Classroom size, especially in the middle school grades, was another issue Mr. Garrido addressed by beginning the process to reduce the class size. Anna L. Klein School had an enrollment of a little over 1,000 students – which is more than half of the student population of the entire Roselle Park School District and incoming superintendent Garrido foresees the manageability of having a student population separated by schools instead of floors.
Anyone who missed the approval of the contract for the new superintendent will have an opportunity to witness a ceremonial vote as well as meet with incoming superintendent Garrido at the June 25th BOE meeting which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Roselle Park Middle School.
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