Dozens of residents crowded the South Side High School auditorium last week to welcome the next Rockville Centre superintendent of schools. After a long, intensive search, the Board of Education chose June Chang, the superintendent of Summit Public Schools in New Jersey, to lead the district starting July 1.
Chang, 40, will succeed Dr. William Johnson, who has worked for the district for 40 years — the past 34 as superintendent. Chang’s introduction to the community was interspersed with praise for Johnson and his dedicated leadership.
“As this was going to be an unprecedented process,” board Vice President Susan McNulty said, “the board spent an appreciable amount of time thinking about all of the aspects of this important responsibility, especially involving the community in this generational change.”
After Johnson’s announcement last August of his retirement at the end of this school year, the board began interviewing search firms and chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, which then held focus groups, community forums and conducted an online survey.
“From the information gathered, a written leadership profile was created and used as a guide for what the community and staff of the RVC School District were looking for in a new superintendent,” McNulty said. “The guide was used to create focused interview questions for candidates.”
McNulty said the search process was confidential, “allowing for top-quality candidates to apply without risk of their current employer or community finding out they were exploring outside opportunities.” A pool of 50 candidates applied for the position, she said, and after an initial screening, the board held several interviews and follow-up interviews with several candidates, along with reference and background checks, “before unanimously agreeing to offer the position to Mr. Chang.”
“This was a comprehensive process that took over five months to complete,” McNulty said.
Chang began his career as a teacher in Paterson and New Milford, N.J., and then became a district curriculum supervisor and Holocaust education program supervisor in the Jersey City Public Schools. He then worked in Midland Park as an assistant principal and director of education and professional development. He was appointed superintendent of the Summit Public School District in 2015. The district, with more than 4,000 students, has two primary centers, five elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.
Chang earned a bachelor’s in English from Rutgers University, a master’s in education from St. Peter’s University, and a MBA from Columbia Business School. He is now an adjunct professor of leadership and management at Ramapo College.
Board President Tara Hackett said the trustees took the selection of Johnson’s successor “very seriously,” and they will strategize to ensure there is a smooth transition, with more “meet-and-greet” events over the next few months.
“The board is confident that all of his leadership abilities and skills are 100 percent transferable to our great school district,” Hackett said, “and will keep Rockville Centre as the lighthouse district it has always been while continuing to move us into an exciting new generation of education.”
Chang said he felt “lucky” to join a district where strong leadership had been in place for so long. “Dr. Johnson has laid a great foundation and has provided many traditions,” Chang said. “A lot of those traditions I hope I will be able to embrace, and they will be able to embrace me as well.”
Chang said he is committed to the success and well-being of students.
“That’s my number one priority, and I hope to be able to bring that to fruition by working with the board, the administration, the principals and the teaching staff,” Chang said. “It’s about coming together as one, working together for one goal. We may have different thoughts, different visions and different paths toward things…but at the end of the day, if we can make sure we get to student success, where they have good well-being and well-roundedness as they move forward, then we’ve done our job.”
Chang is still in contract negotations, so his salary is not yet public.
Board Secretary Kelly Barry introduced the president of SSHS student government Lara Solano, who presented Chang with Cyclones wear.
“I’m excited for the future,” Solano said, “and to watch as kids grow up here under Mr. Chang’s lead.”
To finish off the introduction, Dr. Doreen Fryling and the South Side High School Chamber Singers musically welcomed Chang with a Puerto Rican carol, translated as “Open the Doors.” A short reception followed, allowing residents to meet Chang.