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New Superintendent Begins Tenure

Raymond Gonzalez was interim superintendent in Hackensack prior to taking Wayne job.

Raymond Gonzalez is here to stay.

Gonzalez is the district’s first permanent superintendent in three years.

“I’m looking forward to keeping the district focused in a particular direction and keeping the district moving in that direction for as long as possible,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez attended his first board of education meeting Thursday in his new position.

John Sico Jr. was the district’s last permanent superintendent. He retired in 2009 after serving just nine months of his 3 1/2-year contract. The district paid West Hudson Associates $12,000 to recruit and refer candidates to the Board of Education.

Critical thinking, giving teachers the freedom for creativity in their lesson plans, and instructing students on how to correctly use technology in the learning process. These are just some of the tenants Gonzalez believes should be a part of Wayne’s educational system.

“Whether I’m teaching one child or administering a district of this size or larger, the educational focus is really the same, I need to ask: What are we doing, in all aspects of our operations, to ensure that our students are learning,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, a 37-year-old father of three young children, began his educational career in Paterson in 1998. He first taught English as a Second Language.

“That experience really set the foundation of where I see myself today. I learned,  under challenging circumstances, how to focus on students’ needs and their backgrounds to touch in a way so they learned to their greatest potential,” Gonzalez said.

He then moved to the Paterson School District’s central office and became responsible for distributing and examining the results of state-issued standardized tests.

“It’s where I started to really make the connection between technology, not just as an administrative tool, but coordinating with teachers on how to best use it in the classroom,” Gonzalez said.

He became a principal of an elementary school in Westwood in 2006 and the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Paterson School District in 2009. He became the assistant superintendent in Hackensack in 2010 and was named interim superintendent in June of that year before starting in Wayne earlier this week.

Facilitating learning moments in the classroom is an important part of the learning process.

“I think the onus of responsibility comes upon our teachers, which is why they are so important. They need to feel that their hands aren’t tied,” Gonzalez said. “Giving our teachers the freedom and support and structure to make things happen for students in the classroom is also important. Teachers need to know that they have the ability to be creative with their lessons in order to give students opportunities where they can create inspiration for a student.”

A challenging subject for educators is answering the question: What does a classroom in the 21st century look like and how much of a role will technology play in creating it?

“Technology may replace some of the furniture, the tools, but at the heart of a classroom in the 21st century needs to be focused on problem solving,” Gonzalez said. “We are slowing moving away from trying to keep technology out of the classroom. We have to acknowledge that for students of today, technology is how they gather their information so we need to know how to channel that in the right direction and get students to be critical thinkers of the knowledge their receiving from technology. They need to think critically about what they’re reading and how they accessed it.”

Anna December 19, 2011 at 03:31 AM
I agree with Ruby. In response to some other comments, I wish people understood that teachers are not parasites on society. We didn't enter the profession to get rich and or to have cushy jobs. And we actually pay into the pension system. If everyone wants to get rid of pensions, then fine, let's do it. I'll invest the huge amounts of money taken out of my check myself. There are bad apples in every profession, but the vast majority of teachers I work with spend lots of time and energy to do a good job--certainly more than 6-8 hours a day. I don't expect to be worshiped by anyone and I'm okay with my salary ($64k after 10 years), but I don't want the general consensus to be that people in my profession are a bunch of lazy slobs.
Ruby Stanfield December 19, 2011 at 04:11 AM
Anna, I am not a teacher but I have friends that are teachers and they work more than 8 hours a day. The day is not over when you leave the class room. Some of them have to take jobs over the summer to keep up. I moved to Wayne 13 years ago because of the school system. I am not sorry at all for my decision. My oldest has just started college at University of Delaware Majoring in Neuroscience and is getting fantastic grades. My 10th grader is getting good grades also but needs to work harder than her sister to get the grades. Just last week her chemistry teacher at Wayne Valley offered to stay after school a couple days that week to help her before the test on Friday. Most of her teachers would give their time to do that. I am not saying all teachers are perfect and their are a few that need to go but I have been very happy with our teachers and schools all the way from when they were in elementary. I do feel good about our new superintendent and I think Wayne will move forward for the better.
Dory Degen December 19, 2011 at 04:20 AM
I only saw one negative comment about teachers and it was from someone that not only voiced a racist opinion in the same breath, but who is known on the Patch threads for being combative and rude. I remember my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Rubin, she was the best! As well as Mrs. Bulmer from Anthony Wayne and Mr. Patalita at Valley. I could go on and on. Teachers are so underappreciated! In any case, this article sounds like Mr. Gonzalez will be good for Wayne. I hope so.
Joe videodummy December 19, 2011 at 05:03 AM
Don't be silly. Salaries, Pensions, Health-care, Sick and Vacation days are all part of doing business. It wasn't a deal you made to enter, it was a deal already in place when you were offered the job. The only "glitch" in the deal is that some teachers have reached the height of their teaching capabilities and have nothing new to offer. They are relying on outdated degrees, avoiding improvements in their methods of teaching, failing to accept technology changes, or just riding the system because they can. They lack the competitive instinctive talent that they once endured 12, 15 or 20 years ago. They fail to display it, they fail to realize it, and they fail the students that depend on it to advance to they're own next level of higher education. By now, Wayne's education system should be a well oiled machine- But there not. Teachers, Students and Parents need a student portal NOW. They are already 5 years behind by not having a comprehensive website that provides information about grades, homework assignments, course schedules and links to other research and learning institutions. Let's face it, half the kindergarten class has a cell phone and can contact mom or dad in 8 seconds, but neither the student or the parents has the ability to log on to their own school and get vital information regarding homework, test scores, grades, absentees, or to pay for a field trip. What a joke !!! Not all of us are blaming the teachers or "your" salaries.
Paul Karsevar December 22, 2011 at 09:34 PM
I wish Dr. Gonzalez all the best. It is great to see a young person take over this very difficult job. Sometimes rewarding sometimes not. His cultural background I think is a positive. This system has been missing a strong leader for a very long time and I think it is starting to show in many facets. Dr. Gonzalez will have to establish himself and set his rules and be strong in doing so. If the boards feathers get ruffled so be it. This is now his district and everyone should respect that. A good superintendent is the general the BOE should be the 2nd lt. in military speak. Good luck and happy holidays to all.

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