South Amboy’s new superintendent has experience in urban school districts

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

SOUTH AMBOY — The beginning of the calendar year was the beginning of the school year for the district’s new superintendent, Jorge Diaz.

Interim Superintendent Frank Alfano previously served in the role following the retirement of longtime Superintendent Robert Sheedy in 2015. Alfano’s contract ran through Dec. 31, 2016.

Diaz, who lives in Carteret, was most recently principal of New Brunswick High School, a large urban school with 1,800 students and more than 200 staff members. However, he said over his 16-year career as an educator, he also has overseen elementary and middle schools.

“With experience in all three levels of the K-12 educational system, I was prepared to embark on the next progression of my administrative career,” he said of why he felt it was time to pursue a superintendent role.

In South Amboy, he said, he has already seen a strong sense of pride in and commitment to the city’s schools.

“South Amboy is a close-knit, endearing community with great appeal. The schools offer an inviting atmosphere wherein all stakeholders take pride in serving the needs of our students,” he said.

One person in South Amboy who is a staunch supporter of Diaz is Councilwoman Zusette Dato, who said she met Diaz through his role as a councilman in Carteret. She said Diaz took her under his wing in teaching her how to campaign for election.

“He is just such a good man, in addition to being a gifted educator,” said Dato, who held a reception for Diaz after he was hired so residents and school faculty could meet him. “He’s very strong, but he is approachable. He’s easy to talk to. I think his ideas are progressive. So I really think this is like a win-win for us.”

Diaz is equally complimentary of city officials.

“Mayor [Fred] Henry, Council President [Mickey] Gross and Councilwoman Dato have been instrumental in my transition and have provided me with the key contacts in the city as I work to build relationships.”

Diaz also has a philosophy of education that reflects the importance of relationships.

“I believe all students can learn at high levels, and it’s our obligation as educators to create a safe, nurturing environment where all students can achieve success,” he said.

He pointed to the obligations both educators and parents have in that process in order to be successful. Educators, he said, are responsible for continuing to develop themselves “to ensure we employ best practices in instructional delivery while maintaining clear and high expectations for students.” Parents, meanwhile, he said, are vital to students’ success and must “support the school-to-home partnership.”

Also key to student success, he said, will be leveraging technology and innovation — something that aligns with Diaz’s former role as a technology specialist.

“As we continue to build on existing partnerships, we will seek to enhance the curriculum with experiential activities, expand our course offerings and integrate technology in an effort to prepare our students with the necessary skills to compete globally.”