GREENBURGH, N.Y. – For the second time in two nights, a New Jersey superintendent was in Greenburgh, pitching his vision for the future of the school district.
Robert Copeland, one of three finalists for the superintendent position in Greenburgh, discussed a belief of scientific research, early childhood education and the need to create rigorous learning programs for all students, from the struggling to the advanced.
Greenburgh provides a unique challenge, he said Friday, but also an exciting opportunity.
“I like the fact that people are interested in academic achievement,” Copeland said, referring to the couple dozen people crowded into the high school cafeteria to hear him speak. “I like the fact the questions you’ve asked are not easy. They’re tangled in all different things. That’s exciting.”
Unlike his current position as superintendent of Piscataway, N.J., Township Schools, Copleand said Greenbrugh was small enough that he could have a direct impact on the district.
“I like to be more hands-on with projects,” Copeland said.
A Greenburgh native who grew up in Massapequa, Copeland said educators need to adapt their teachings to each individual student and not try to fit a “square peg into a round hole.”
“I think we need to provide different pegs for different students and recognize kids learn differently,” Copeland said.
Friday was the final of three question and answer sessions at Woodlands High School for the candidates of the superintendent position.
On Wednesday, interim Superintendent and High School Principal Ronald Ross took his turn in front of the crowd at the high school cafeteria. Thursday, Greenbugh resident and West Orange Public School District Superintendent Anthony Cavanna met the community.
If chosen for the job, Copeland assured parents he planned to be in Greenburgh for the long haul.
“I think my past record shows I’m not a job-jumper,” Copeland said. “I look to make an important contribution.”
Copeland said his experiences in New Jersey, where the district’s state aid had been slashed by 30 percent, has taught him how to work with a tight budget and work with the community to get the spending plan passed.
But even if the budget is rejected, Copeland said administrators have a responsibility to get the job done.
“I can’t look the community in the face, or the teachers, and say we didn’t get the funding so we can’t do the job,” Copeland said. “We have a responsibility to teach the children with whatever resources we have and lay aside whatever excuses we may want to use.”
With the interviewing process over, the board of education began deliberating Friday on who the next superintendent will be. Board President Terry Williams said earlier this week they hoped to reach a decision the same day.