Hopewell Valley Regional School District selects its first African American superintendent

The Hopewell Valley Regional School District administration building in Pennington.

After more than two months of searching, members of the Hopewell Valley Board of Education have selected Dr. Rosetta Treece as the school district’s next superintendent.

Treece is the first African American to lead the Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD) as superintendent.

The board is set to vote on her official appointment at a meeting on July 19.

“It is with great pleasure that the board names Dr. Treece to be the next superintendent for Hopewell Valley schools,” Board President Deborah Linthorst said. “Dr. Treece is an effective, accomplished, caring educator who is committed to the support and development of all students, preparing them for success and for lives as responsible, ethical citizens of our world.”

She added that the board looks forward to working with her in this new capacity.

Treece, who would also be the second woman to hold the position, would assume the position on Aug. 1 as she replaces outgoing Superintendent Thomas Smith.

“I am very excited to be able to continue the vision of excellence as established by our Board of Education and outgoing Superintendent Dr. Thomas Smith,” Treece said. “I would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Smith for his mentorship and wish him well in his next endeavor. We are blessed to have a very engaged school community and I look forward to our collaboration and expanding upon the great work that is already underway.”

Smith’s retirement was announced at meeting in late April and his retirement goes into effect on July 31. He will become the new superintendent of the Pennsbury School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

“Many of us have heard about the history and the ‘revolving door’ of superintendents prior to Dr. Smith’s assuming leadership responsibilities for the district,” Linthorst said. “After 12 years, this job will be a challenge for whoever walks through the door; they’ll need to be ready to rise to the occasion. The board has the utmost confidence in Dr. Treece’s ability to hit the ground running on Day 1.”

According to the Board of Education, Treece became assistant superintendent in 2020 and has served as the director for Curriculum and Instruction for the HVRSD since 2016.

“The board considered Dr. Treece’s candidacy independent of her current role as assistant superintendent, as we would any applicant, and determined without reservation that she shares our vision and values as a district,” Board Vice President Jess Grillo said. “As superintendent, her commitment, intellect and broad experience, along with her collaborative nature, will enable the board to meet its goals and uphold the tenets of our district mission statement.”

According to the board, Treece has played a large role in shaping district policy and practices and has been considered as an indispensable member of the district administrative team throughout the pandemic.

Some of the collaborations spotlighted had been working with Smith and key staff on matters that included safety, technology, grading policies and screening practices.

When Smith’s retirement from district was announced on April 26 the school board approved an ad hoc Superintendent Search Committee to help identify the district’s next superintendent.

Through surveys and focus groups with stakeholders, the board went through a four-phased process before arriving to the board’s selection of a new superintendent. The board had been hoping to have a new superintendent in place as close to the start of the 2021-22 school year as possible after multiple candidate interviews.

According to the board, they felt along with community and stakeholder input that this was not the time to introduce someone from outside the school district to lead the administration.

Also, the community and stakeholder feedback indicated requests for a continued focus on equity, inclusion, and diversity policy and initiatives, and increased need for mental health support for staff and students.

“The results received through community feedback resoundingly confirmed what the search committee and board members already knew … that Dr. Treece is uniquely qualified to take on this role, that people are confident in her abilities and are prepared to entrust the future of our district to her capable care,” Search Committee Chair Anita Williams Galiano said.

Treece has been an educator for 19 years in New Jersey public schools. During her career, she has served as a high school English teacher, a literacy coach for secondary schools, and vice principal.

Over the course of eight years, Treece has served the school district as a vice principal at Timberlane Middle School (TMS), principal at TMS, and as the director and assistant superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, according to the board.

“Dr. Treece is highly visible and personable, a visionary leader who inspires others and who is a team builder, and is an outstanding communicator who is aware of the need for community involvement,” Galiano said.