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Southern Ulster TimesHighland picks new school’s chief

Highland picks new school’s chief

Last week, after a six month search, the Highland School Board approved Thomas Bongiovi as the new district Superintendent. He has been serving as the Interim Superintendent since the fall of 2017.

School Board President Alan Barone began by thanking Ulster BOCES Superintendent Dr. Charles V. Khoury for his help in the search.

“His input, his guidance and everything that went into it, I think he guided the entire board through this whole process,” Barone said. “He had a timeline set up back in September and the final outcome of that timeline had us appointing a Superintendent sometime in February and here we are.”

Thomas Bongiovi

Barone said Dr. Khoury spent hours on behalf of the school district, speaking with a search committee, with members of the school board and sending out queries to educational publications “to gather interested candidates seeking to become our Superintendent.” The initial round of inquiry gathered about 40 applicants, which was quickly narrowed down to 12 individuals. Barone said after some “brainstorming” the school board further shaved the list to six finalists that eventually resulted in their final choice of Bongiovi.

Barone has been through three searches for a Superintendent for the district and said that today’s technology made the process quicker and very comprehensive.

“We were able to look at videos of the candidates and what they were able to tell us about themselves and their careers; it became very valuable,” he said. “In the past it was basically just sitting down to a face to face interview, which does tell a lot about a candidate, no doubt, but this round I think was most impressive to me.” He said although the process was “long and lengthy” he believes the school board overall enjoyed the search.

Bongiovi’s appointment runs from February 6, 2018 through June 30, 2021 at an annual salary of $172,250.

Barone commented on the new appointment.

“I believe that Tom will be able to move this district in the right direction, a positive direction and it will benefit the community and our students of this district. Thank you and congratulations,” Baron concluded.

Bongiovi said that at a recent forum on the opioid crisis the theme centered around education, community and family.

“That theme wasn’t just for that night; here in Highland that’s the theme every day,” he said. “Tonight, I would like to thank everyone for taking time out of their personal lives to be here, to support myself and the district. Thank you Dr. Khoury, President Barone and the entire Board of Education for their faith and support of me as Superintendent of Schools. It is my goal to continue to strengthen our education, community and family so that together we will have a positive life-long impact on the students of our community and our families in this district.”

In a moment of levity, Bongiovi said it is “quite timely that in the same year that [third] cousin John is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that the original Bongiovi is being inducted into the Highland Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.” (His famous cousin changed the spelling of his last name to Bon Jovi)

Bongiovi said it is a privilege to be a part of the Highland community.

“The family atmosphere is so evident; I noticed it when I came in October and it is so refreshing and I am very exited to be a part of it,” he said.

Bongiovi said when he came to the district last fall he told the board that he was going to treat the interim position “as if I was here and get started right away and that most likely I was going to be applying for the job [of Superintendent].”

Bongiovi said this is his 30th year in education, starting out as a Social Studies teacher in Seaford, NY, a position he held for 13 years. He then moved on to the Port Jervis school district, becoming the High School Assistant Principal for two years, the Middle School Principal for 4 ½ years and the High School Principal for 4 ½ years. He then was hired to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Instruction for a year and then the district’s Superintendent for 4 years.

According to the district’s website Bongiovi received a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Education and Political Science from LeMoyne College, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He holds a School Administrator and Supervisor Professional Diploma from Dowling College and a School District Administrator Certificate from East Stroudsburg University.

Bongiovi said as a teacher he sometimes misses seeing the kids every day and makes an effort to be in each of the school buildings several times each week.

“I enjoy taking my 30 years of experience at all levels of administration and all levels of High School and Middle School teaching and being able to share that experience with the current teaching and support staff and being able to make things better for students. That is why we’re all here,” he said. “It’s all about the students. One of my mottoes is lets take what we do and make it better.”

By Mark Reynolds

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