MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – New Mount Vernon Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Hamilton has officially been sworn into his position, and is set to tackle the challenges that he’s facing in trying to turn around a struggling school district.
Hamilton, who comes to Mount Vernon after spending nearly two decades ascending the educational ranks in New Jersey, has hit the ground running since taking over for interim Superintendent Judith Johnson, who officially retired earlier in the week after two years on the job.
The new superintendent has been keenly aware of the difficulties he will face as the district continues to struggle financially, is set to begin a technology overhaul and prepares to switch to an innovative “K-8” model.
“I am committed to creating an exemplary school district and providing our students with the best possible options to ensure success,” he said. “Despite the current fiscal conditions that all schools face, we must continue to maintain courses and programs that are of interest to, and provide benefit for, our students.”
Johnson noted that she initially only signed on a one-year contract, but wound up staying an additional year after the first superintendent search stalled.
"It was clear when I started in 2012 that this was a school system poised to accept meaningful change," she said. "Even though I agreed to simply act as a steward while the search for a permanent superintendent ensued, I knew I couldn’t simply keep the ship afloat, we needed to repair and improve."
If the district is to turn around, Hamilton – like Johnson before him – believes that the burden is going to fall on the shoulders of the community to come together and make education an integrated and cohesive experience.
“It is my belief that children must always come first. This has been my mantra during the course of my career, and I will continue to make this our priority,” he noted. “In order to make this mantra a reality and common practice, it will require the entire community embracing the dawning of a new day and forge ahead to improve the conditions that compromise student success and reverse patterns that perpetuate underachievement.”
Hamilton was tabbed as the permanent replacement for Johnson after a lengthy two-year search. He served as a special education teacher before transitioning to administration in 2009.
The former Monroe Township, New Jersey schools superintendent signed a three-year contract that will pay him $250,000 annually.
“As we strive for excellence, I am cognizant of the fact that students must be prepared for any and all post-secondary options they select,” Hamilton said. “Student success lies in our collective ability to implement a program of study and a district wide curriculum that is well developed and taught by a highly trained and dedicated staff.”