The Montclair Board of Education announced today that, after an extensive nationwide search, it has selected Dr. Penny MacCormack to be the district’s Superintendent of Schools. Dr. MacCormack, who currently serves as Assistant Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education, will begin her tenure as superintendent on November 1, 2012.
“We are extremely fortunate that such a distinguished educational leader and innovator will lead the Montclair Public Schools into the future,” noted Board of Education President Robin Kulwin. “Dr. MacCormack’s deep experience in diverse communities, her demonstrated understanding and leadership across traditional and nontraditional pedagogical methods, and her obvious comfort with directing large and complex organizations made her the obvious choice. The entire board is enthusiastic about the prospect of her leadership for the board, staff, parents, students, and our entire community. We are committed, under Dr. MacCormack’s leadership, to making our outstanding school district truly extraordinary.”
“I am thrilled to be coming to Montclair,” Dr. MacCormack stated. “I believe that we can develop an educational system that will provide all students with the academic and character skills they need to succeed in a competitive world and become tomorrow’s leaders and thinkers. I look forward to working hand in hand with the committed educators, staff, board, parents, students, and community leaders of Montclair to pursue this vision. Continuous improvement is at the core of who I am, and I strongly believe that I will bring leadership skills, knowledge, and the mindset necessary to work well with stakeholders to achieve success. My personal philosophy as an educator is simple: the students come first. As with every other position I have held in the area of public education, my singular goal as superintendent of the Montclair Public Schools will be to help build and cultivate a school system that fully meets the needs of all students and prepares them for success in their lives and future careers.”
During a career spanning more than 20 years, Dr. MacCormack’s broad experience in public education includes positions as a classroom teacher, dean of students, high school and middle school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, and chief academic officer. In her current role as Assistant Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education, Dr. MacCormack has been responsible for facilitating and implementing the recently adopted Common Core State Standards and has focused on developing strategies to assist the state’s schools in preparing students to meet these new standards.
Her focus has included working with the state’s lowest performing schools and those with the largest student achievement gaps.
Before becoming Chief Academic Officer for the NJDOE, Dr. MacCormack was Chief Academic Officer for the Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut. There she was the primary author of the strategic plan that led to successfully closing significant student achievement gaps. She also provided leadership for teaching and learning in a district of 50 schools with over 22,000 students, 2,100 certificated staff, and an annual operating budget of $385 million. While serving in Hartford, Dr. MacCormack garnered community acceptance for competency-based graduation requirements and redesigned the process for allocating title funds so as to increase equity and target student achievement.
MacCormack holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Hartford, an MA from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, and a BS from the University of Connecticut. She served as the board chair for Hartford Performs and was an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut University. Dr. MacCormack is also a Broad Fellow, an experience about which she said, “The Broad Academy offered a unique learning opportunity focused on reform strategies for closing the achievement gap. This experience augmented the learning opportunities my doctoral program offered as well the learning I accumulated every day as a teacher, principal and then central office leader. I am proud to say that, over the span of my career, I have embraced every opportunity to learn and to grow as a leader in order to better meet the needs of the students and community I serve.”
Board President Kulwin reported that the superintendent search was conducted by Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and included contact with nearly 250 potential candidates from 42 states and one foreign country. Seventy-three candidates completed the application process and, based on academic leadership qualities identified by the Board of Education and input from numerous stakeholder groups, 16 candidates were identified for vetting before 11 were selected for personal interviews. The 11 were from the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. Six semi-finalists were selected for an in-depth interview, of whom three were brought back as part of a rigorous final interview and review process. In addition to the vetting and reference examination process, finalists were subject to civil, criminal and financial background checks.