Longtime assistant school superintendent retiring from South Brunswick

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By Jennifer Amato
Staff Writer
SOUTH BRUNSWICK – An esteemed administrator in the South Brunswick School District will be retiring after 25 years of service to the community.
Joanne Kerekes, 63, of Neptune City, has decided to retire from her position as assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, after a career that spanned more than 40 years in public education.
“While I had been preparing for this eventuality, if you know Joanne,
you realize her gifts are many and not easily replaceable. We thank her for her outstanding service to children and wish her well with what’s next,” Principal Jerry Jellig said in a statement released to parents on Feb. 22.
Kerekes received her bachelor’s degree from Rider University and her Master’s in Education from Rutgers University. She came to South Brunswick in November 1990 because she was asked to join the district as a staff developer.
“I have been lucky to have a career I have loved, so my profession has always been in education,” Kerekes said in an interview. “I came from the East Windsor School District where I had worked for 14 years as a teacher, unit leader and project specialist and I loved every minute of it. It was a hard place to leave. But, the South Brunswick School District opened a ‘window of opportunity’ I am so glad I climbed through.”
Besides staff developer, Kerekes has also held the positions of elementary, upper elementary and middle school principal, and then most recently assistant superintendent, which she began 12 years ago.
She cited the rewards as the opportunity to work with every grade level and every department in the district on curriculum, instruction and assessment; the close and different relationship with each school in the district; the literally thousands of teachers she has visited, observed and hopefully influenced in some small way via; the programs that she has been fortunate enough to create and implement with her colleagues including, the District Student Art Gallery, District Music Festival, South Brunswick Parent Academy, South Brunswick Reads, Day with the Characters and other intergenerational partnerships, Calendar Art, District Core Values and related character education programs, the Enrichment Support and Instructional Support programs and the High School Summer Institute; and the relationships she developed with students, staff and administrators.
The challenges, she said, have been the infinite needs and finite resources; the ever-changing curriculum and keeping up with the necessary revisions and related professional development; the power and the pitfalls of technology; the many mandates; and ushering in the new state assessment system.
Since Kerekes has been working for almost 50 years, and has been “going to school” for 59, she said, “My first plan to simply stop, breathe, take stock and then imagine the possibilities.  I truly can see myself moving in one or more of several directions. I do not think I will try to replicate what I have had in South Brunswick because it is inimitable, but I have lots of hopes and dreams.”
“Simply stated, [I will miss] the people,” she said of officially retiring as of Aug. 1. “Parents, community partners, teachers, education specialists, support staff, administrators and students. Always the students.”
Dr. Maribeth Edmunds, current principal of Monmouth Junction Elementary School, will succeed Kerekes as the next assistant superintendent, Jellig said. Prior to coming to Monmouth Junction, Edmunds was director of Professional Development, working in support of all schools in partners hip with faculty and leadership. She also has extensive high school teaching experience and teaches at Seton Hall University, where she earned her doctorate.
“And most of all, from both a personal and professional place, she understands the needs of all students — those with remarkable innate ability and those who face the most difficult learning challenges,” Jellig said.
Edmunds will transition to the board office within the next few weeks and formally start her new role July 1. An internal interim principal will be appointed for the balance of the year at Monmouth Junction, Jellig said.
Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.