Letter to District Learning Community
March 19, 2015
Dear South Orange Maplewood School District Community,
On Monday, March 16, the Board of Education announced my name as the selected candidate to become your next Superintendent of Schools. I am deeply honored and look forward to becoming a part of the outstanding South Orange Maplewood learning community! As your superintendent, I will be committed to sustaining, supporting, and building upon your record of accomplishments in order to help all students develop holistically and help staff to foster 21st century learning and growth.
My beliefs and values include an absolute commitment to the concept of excellence and equity. Some people see these terms as mutually exclusive; I don’t. Simply put, I believe our job is to deliver quality and excellence to ALL students. I also subscribe to the ideas set forth in Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People including the notion that our organizations must pay attention to the goose as well as the golden egg;
that is, those who are responsible for developing our students as well as actual student achievement.
Further, I believe in the concept of servant leadership. Picture the typical organizational chart with the Board of Education and Superintendent at the top and the client (students and families) at the bottom of the pyramid. This structure is fine as it relates to establishing goals, objectives, and evaluation processes. However, when the work is being carried out day to day, we need to invert the pyramid. The BOE and Superintendent are on the bottom supporting up (central office staff, etc.), central office staff is supporting
up (building administration, etc.), building administration is supporting up (teachers and staff, etc.), teachers and staff support up, and on top, the ultimate beneficiary is the client – our students and families. This is servant leadership and it promotes a service delivery model that is both proactive and intentional.
Finally, I want you to know that my leadership style is collaborative and that the essential question that I ask when faced with a decision is, “Is this good for the children and young adults that we serve?”
I bring to the position of superintendent years of experience in suburban and urban school districts. I have served as a public schools administrative leader in Providence, RI, Norwalk, CT, Watertown, CT, Bridgeport, CT and Groton, CT. Like South Orange Maplewood, each of these communities is unique. In every case, however, what has made the tangible and intangible difference for children has been the quality engagement of its
In closing, I’d like to mention how impressed I have been with the energy, passion, and commitment that I have observed in the members of the Board of Education and staff that I have met in addition to what I have read and heard about the extent of your community involvement. I am excited about working with you to collectively realize our district’s mission!
I hope that you will invest some of your time to meet with me during an upcoming community forum (to be announced)!
John Ramos, Ed.D.