The Jefferson Chronicle’s Community and Sports Editor, Michael Chirichella recently sat down with Dr. Patrick Tierney, Superintendent of Jefferson Township’s Schools for a brief Q & A session.
Q: Dr. Tierney, did you always want to be an educator and when did you decide to go into administration?
A: I actually started out wanting to be an accountant but started coaching high school football while I was in college and eventually coached at the collegiate level for a year and a half. I enjoyed the interaction with students and athletes and seeing the impact I could have watching them grow and develop.
About a year or two after I went into teaching, I had a lot of mentors who were administrators. I came to realize that classroom teachers just impact students in your classrooms but as an administrator you can help more people at more levels. Since I became an administrator, I’ve adopted a “systems based approach.” A decision made at the elementary level, positive or negative, will have an impact down the road.
Q: How would you describe your style or philosophy?
A: I try to be down to earth, approachable, and collaborative and look at things from a realistic and practical standpoint.
Q: What was your background before coming to Jefferson and how did you hear about the position of Superintendent of Schools?
A: I was a principal at the middle school level in Rockaway for two years and as a combined position of Principal/Superintendent for three years. I then moved on to Roxbury where I was the Superintendent of Schools for four years.
I heard of Jefferson’s former Superintendent, Joe Kraemer’s, retirement in May of 2015 and it was officially announced in September of 2015. I officially became Superintendent of Schools for Jefferson Township on January 5,2016.
Q. What was your initial perception of the Jefferson Township School System?
A: I knew it was a good system as Joe ( Kraemer) and I had a conversation about it so I knew there were a lot of good people, good teachers and good kids. Still I didn’t want to just take the job based solely on someone’s opinion so I took it upon myself to attend as many meetings as possible. I attended faculty meetings, PTA meetings, and town council meetings so I could meet as many people as possible and find out about the situation for myself. I spoke to many people throughout the community.
Q: What are your priorities as Superintendent of Schools?
A: To improve academic achievement, to upgrade facilities in grades K-12 district-wide, and to improve and enhance programs and offerings for our students.
Q: What are some of the ideas and programs you’d like to bring from Roxbury to Jefferson?
A: After being here a year and being collaborative and a strategic planner, I’ve met with DECA and the Curriculum Committee and reviewed data from our PARCC (Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers) scores to see where our strengths and weaknesses were to come up with a team approach to develop a “road map” to move the district forward.
Q: What are the biggest strengths you see in the Jefferson School District?
A: The quality of the people. Not just in the schools but in the community as a whole. When you have quality people like we have here, you can do amazing things.
Q: And what are the biggest challenges?
A: Lack of financial resources to make upgrades.
Q: What are the three most important things you’d like people to know about yourself?
A: First, all the decisions I make are in the best interests of the children. I look at your children as my children.
Second, I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.
Third, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real than always right.” That’s a quote I keep on my computer desktop to keep me grounded.
Q: Money is no object and you don’t have to worry about what people think, what’s your ideal breakfast?
A: Bacon, egg, and cheese on a toasted bagel with a side of disco fries and American cheese with a Coke.
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The Tierney File
NAME: Patrick Raymond Tierney
BORN: 9.24.71 in Belleville, NJ
EDUCATION: Graduated Queen of Peace HS ; North Arlington, NJ
Bachelor’s degree in Business management from St. Peter’s
M.A in Special Education from New Jersey City University
M.A in Administration and Supervision from New Jersey City University
Ed.d in Educational Leadership with emphasis on Staff development from Nova Southeastern University
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Educator eight years, Vice Principal four years, Prinicpal two years, Principal/Superintendent three years, Superintendent (Roxbury) four years
FAMILY: Wife Meredith, son William, 13, daughter Madison 9. 1 dog, Finn
HOBBIES: Being a taxi driver for my kids, Scuba diving, reading historical novels and biographies. Another favorite is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. I’m also a fan of Robert Frost.