Wednesday, 24 June 2009 11:17
In a surprise move, Dr. John A. Richman has retired as Superintendent of the Roslyn School District.
The announcement was made at the June 18 Board of Education meeting. Also at the meeting, Dr. Dan Brenner, who has been the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Instruction since 2005, was appointed by the BOE as his successor.
Dr. Richman was preceded as superintendent by Dr. Gerard Dempsey, who served in an interim capacity as the school district struggled to recover from the embezzlement scandal. In his farewell letter, Dr. Richman thanked the community and staff for their support, while expressing his best wishes for both Dr. Brenner and the school district. Below are the contents of the letter, which has been posted on the school’s website.
“After two years as your Superintendent of Schools, and 36 years in public education, I will be retiring at the end of the current school year,” Dr. Richman said.
“When I left my previous district in 2007, I had the option of retiring at that time. But I decided to remain active as an educator because of an unusual opportunity in Roslyn: to help an outstanding school district that had gone through a traumatic episode to turn itself around and regain its well-deserved reputation for excellence.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the last two years. Most important of all have been the positive changes in curriculum and instruction, including the creation of the alternative program at Roslyn High School, the introduction of the Columbia Writing Project in the elementary schools, the expansion of foreign language offerings, a renewed emphasis on differentiated instruction and greater opportunities for professional development. I commend Dr. Dan Brenner, assistant superintendent for curriculum and Instruction, for his exceptional leadership on all of these initiatives and many others.
“We have also made great strides in the infusion of technology into the instructional program and in bringing the district’s computer infrastructure and applications into the 21st century. From the new AV Rovers, to the point-of-purchase system in the cafeterias, to advanced systems for student records and attendance, we have come a long way in a short time. Dr. Edward Salina, our assistant superintendent for administration, has provided truly visionary leadership in this area, as well as in human resources and in all of the other numerous projects he has taken on.
“An area that still needed attention when I arrived was our business operations. While the district had climbed out of the deep hole it had been in during the scandal, there was still a great deal of work to do to restore the community’s faith in the district’s fiscal operations. Under the expert guidance of Joseph Dragone, assistant superintendent for business, who is one of the most respected school business officials in the state, Roslyn has gone from being a dirty word in school finance to being a district that others are now emulating. The overwhelmingly positive vote for the school budget last month demonstrated the community’s renewed confidence in our ability to maintain both fiscal discipline and educational excellence.
“The health of the district’s facilities has also greatly improved. This was an effort that began in earnest several years before I came to Roslyn, and has continued at a rapid pace. As I write, ground is scheduled to be broken on the long-awaited renovation of the middle school’s athletic fields, which is only the latest in a series of literally hundreds of capital projects that have been undertaken with strong community support. Tom Mohrman, assistant to the superintendent for operations, has lent his many years of experience and expertise to bringing the district’s physical plant back to where it should have always been.
“One of my favorite memories that I will take with me from Roslyn is that of attending the Long Island Marching Band Festival after being here only a few months. Students from many high schools filled the stands of the large stadium at Hofstra, and most of them were behaving the way teenagers do: socializing with one another, watching some of the other bands, generally having a good time. But within minutes of taking their seats, most of Roslyn’s kids had school books on their laps and were studying. This impressed me enormously. As a school community, we do so much to set the stage for their success, but our students’ eagerness to seize their opportunities is why Roslyn achieves the results that it does.
“I feel very good about leaving the district in the extremely capable hands of Dr. Brenner, my friend and colleague, who will be your new superintendent. Dan has been assistant superintendent in Roslyn for the last four years, he knows the community well, and his approach to education is as child-centered as that of anyone I have worked with in my many years as a teacher and administrator. I know he will do very well and I wish him all the best.
“I would like to thank all of the staff for their great efforts on behalf of Roslyn’s kids. Over the last two years, we have successfully completed negotiations with five of our six employee associations, and in each case the relationship between administration and staff has grown stronger. There is no question in my mind that a staff that feels respected and valued by the school community will repay that trust with professionalism and tireless advocacy for children.
“As I depart, I feel as strongly as ever that Roslyn is an awesome district with its best years still to come. Roslyn has what it takes to continue its unbroken record of academic success: remarkable students, dedicated staff, engaged parents, and a supportive community,” the letter concluded. “I thank you for your support, and look forward to hearing about all the great things that Roslyn’s kids will be doing in the years ahead.”
Brenner Takes the Reigns
The BOE’s appointment of Dr. Brenner as superintendent of schools was unanimous. He will assume his new post on July 1, upon the retirement of Dr. Richman.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity, and I am very grateful to the board for placing their confidence in me,” Dr. Brenner said. “I have deep respect for Dr. Richman’s commitment and leadership on so many important issues, and I hope to keep the district focused on always doing what is in the best interests of children.”
Dr. Brenner joined Roslyn Public Schools in 2005 as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. During those four years, he has overseen the implementation of numerous educational initiatives, including programs in elementary literacy, expansion of secondary foreign language offerings, and enhancements in the middle school math program. He also led efforts to increase opportunities for professional development and to introduce differentiated instruction at all levels, including The Hilltop Academy.
Prior to coming to Roslyn, Dr. Brenner had been the principal of Yorktown High School in Westchester County. He began his educational career as a school psychologist in the Great Neck public schools, becoming principal of the Village School in 1995. During the course of his career, he has been a crisis team leader, a girls’ varsity basketball coach and a mentor for colleagues and students. He has also continued to work as a clinical psychologist specializing in adolescents and their families. Dr. Brenner is a trustee of a non-profit agency serving developmentally disabled adults, and has been a presenter at conferences about childhood development and other educational issues.
Dr. Brenner is a graduate of Tufts University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science cum laude in 1981. He earned a Master of Science degree in 1982 and a Doctor of Philosophy from Hofstra University in 1987.