Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert was appointed Acting Superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District on November 3, after former Supt. Dr. Ronald G. Taylor was placed on administrative leave. Following his appointment, Gilbert wrote that there is “no greater purpose for me as Acting Superintendent than recentering this District’s efforts back on our students.”
The following press release is from Paul Brubaker, Director of Communications for the South Orange-Maplewood School District:
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – Talk about a big finish.
The Tuscan Elementary School community welcomed Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange and Maplewood School District, on the morning of November 30 with a special reception courtesy of the school’s administration, teachers, staff, and the Tuscan PTA leaders.
Amidst coffee and refreshments, many teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, social workers, staff members, and even the Tuscan Tiger stopped by to say “good morning” to Gilbert before he greeted students and families. A little later, Gilbert went outside and mingled among the parents and caregivers who waited with their children for the school day to begin.
It was a warm and unexpected end to Gilbert’s “10 Schools In 10 Days” tour that began at Clinton Elementary School bright and early on Monday, November 13, Gilbert’s first day after being appointed to his new role. Since then, Gilbert has visited all 10 of the District’s schools, plus the South Mountain Annex, in 10 non-consecutive days.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to start this new appointment,” said Gilbert. “My intention with these school visits was simply to make sure that students, families, and staff members knew who the new acting superintendent is. But I think we’ve accomplished much more than that. I appreciate every one of the receptive, encouraging, and friendly people I have met during these visits. It’s a great reminder of why I went into education in the first place, and it has fed my optimism for the work ahead in the District.”
Gilbert thanked all of the District’s school principals and their staff members for accommodating his visits during the past three weeks.
This morning’s reception at Tuscan was not the only unexpected benefit of the tour. There were incidental encounters he had along the way that showed just how dynamic the District is.
For example, while walking through South Mountain Elementary School, Gilbert and Principal Kevin Mason entered a classroom where an anesthesiologist was demonstrating how to intubate a patient to students.
Over at Delia Bolden Elementary School, Math and Science Teacher Kristin Harris showed Gilbert the dozens of trout she and her classes are raising in her classroom. Down the hall, Gilbert met Third Grade Teacher and District alumna Alana Ferruggiaro, who played guard for the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team coached by the legendary C. Vivian Stringer.
At Columbia High School, Gilbert grabbed a photo op with Alex Simon, head coach of the 2023 Essex County Champion Boys Cross Country Team.
And while he visited South Orange Middle School, Gilbert met Selica Blagrove, a special education teacher who was reporting for her first day of work at the school.
“Good things are happening every day in our schools. That is one of the most powerful reminders I’m taking away from this tour I’ve been on during the past couple of weeks,” Gilbert said. “Everything we do must be for the benefit of our students, and there is much work to be done as we all strive to become a better school District for all students. But right now, we have many dedicated, creative people working to serve our students and families, and wonderful people in the South Orange and Maplewood communities who support our efforts. All I can feel is gratitude for everyone after spending time in all of our schools.”