MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – After a lengthy search process, the Mount Vernon Board of Education has narrowed its search to four finalists looking to replace interim Superintendent Judith Johnson.
The board met with each of the candidates during a lengthy public interview last week, and is now seeking the public’s input with an online survey. Each candidate has a wealth of experience and fits the criteria the district determined they were looking for in candidates.
In a survey last year, the public determined the board should seek a candidate with a minimum of five years experience working in a central office. They further are looking for a superintendent with financial management expertise who has the “ability to turn around a school district in crisis.”
“One of the most important processes in which a school board president is involved is the search for and appointment of a new superintendent,” recently appointed School Board President Leonard Sarver said. “This is of critical importance to this school district at this time.”
Kenneth Hamilton has a lengthy resume that includes positions at every level. He has worked exclusively in New Jersey, working his way from special education teacher vice principal and principal in various school districts before being named the Superintendent of Schools in Monroe Township.
“We need to create an environment that supports staff, encourages teaching excellence and adapts to the changing needs of students,’ he said.
Dr. David Calvin McCalla is a familiar name in the Mount Vernon School District, where he served as Director of Assessment and Data Management in 2004 before assuming an assistant superintendent position. After leaving the district, he served as principal at Albany High School before retiring to Miami, where he continues volunteering as a tutor, coach and speaker.
“I always said, I’d never be an administrator,” he joked. “Well, I’ll tell you what, never say you won’t do something.”
Robert-Wayne Harris is currently working as an educational consultant while pursuing his doctorate in the Educational Leadership Doctoral program at Hofstra University. He has worked at every level during his career as an educator, from substitute teacher to superintendent of the Roosevelt Union Free School District, another district in turmoil.
He said there needs to be a specific set of standards for both teachers and students.
“Once you walk in and accept expectations, students will quickly fall in line,” he said. “Students need to be held to the highest moral, academic and ethical standards.”
Dr. Richard Tomko, the superintendent of the Elmwood Park Public School District in New Jersey, also serves as an adjunct professor of English at Bergen Community College. He is presently in the process of completing his Master of Jurisprudence degree in Children’s Law and Policy. During his 19-year career, he has held numerous administrative positions and has overseen budgets that feature a 0 percent increase to the tax levy.
“I know that (financial experience) is something that’s important here. Taxes are low in town, right,” he joked. “We have to do more with less.”