The most extensive superintendent search in the history of Glen Rock has unearthed an administrator board members say holds the skills to improve one of the state's highest achieving districts.
The board on Monday night introduced Paula Valenti as the next superintendent of schools, nearly a year after David Verducci announced his resignation.
Valenti, the current principal of Emerson Jr./Sr. High School, is expected to begin her tenure in the first week of March. She will make $157,500 over the next three years, the highest allowed under state caps. (Her salary for the current 2012-2013 school year is pro-rated.)
Twenty applications were received for the top administrative job but according to board president Sheldon Hirschberg, one candidate really stood out.
"Really, it was four things in my judgement: leadership, communication skills, professional knowledge and integrity," he told Patch. "In all four of those areas, she was highly qualified and highly confident."
Valenti – who holds several awards, including principal of the year in New Jersey for 2012 – came highly recommended by the two dozen people the search committee spoke with in Valenti's current district of Emerson.
"Our due diligence included a site visit to her current school where we were impressed not only by her accomplishments, but also by the support and acknowledgement of her leadership by her staff throughout the building," Hirschberg said. "There are many similarities between the Emerson district and Glen Rock, and we are confident our staff, students and community in general will benefit from her past experiences and vision for the future."
Valenti spent 23 years as an art teacher before becoming a supervisor at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood in 2001-2002. She would become principal of the school four years later, leaving in 2006 to run Emerson Jr./Sr. High School. She holds a bachelors and masters degree from Kean University and Ed. D from Seton Hall University.
Glen Rock's newest leader is the recipient of three New Jersey Governor’s Awards, co-founded an education organization and teaches at Farleigh Dickinson University. She's also a published author.
Valenti told Patch she's looking forward to familiarizing herself with the Glen Rock community in the coming weeks.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know the community, getting to work with the principals, getting to work with the parent associations, getting to work with the board and leading the district forward," Valenti told Patch Monday night.
"I don't think I'm coming in with any preconceived ideas about where to take the district. I know it's a district that is a high achieving district, but I am looking forward to learning more about what is going on with the programs and then developing the vision with the input of the board, the staff, the administration, etc."
She's not concerned about the jump from principal to superintendent after nearly 30 years in education.
"The one last learning curve will be the central office but I'm confident I can do that," she said.
Appointed Feb. 9 after the resignation of Interim Superintendent Ray Albano, Dr. Kathleen Regan will remain the acting superintendent until Valenti starts in or around March 1.