By Parker Reed, Staff Writer
Dr. Bernard Josefsberg is back for round two. Unlike the first….he is now in the schools.
Bernard Josefsberg retired again after leaving the New Paltz Central School District in 2020, only to make a second return to our school to take on the position of interim superintendent once again this year.
“Superintendents are supposed to work in concert with the people on the board and the district to make everything work smoothly,” says Bernard Josefsberg.
After receiving his master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Dr. Josefsberg initially entered the teaching profession. He remained in Chicago, teaching English for close to 16 years before moving back to his home state of New Jersey and taking a position as a department supervisor. He earned his doctorate while continuing to hold that employment, and four years later, relocated to New Paltz.
In December 2019, Dr. Josefsberg applied for the position of interim superintendent for the New Paltz Central School District after learning about the opening from his friend, the superintendent of Ulster BOCES. Between the retirement of outgoing Superintendent Maria Rice in December 2019 and the appointment of Urbina-Medina in the summer of 2020, he held this position for about six months. Urbina-Medina left in June 2022, so Mr. Josefsberg has returned to our district for the second time to temporarily fill the critical position as interim superintendent.
Dr. Josefsberg expressed that he’s “pleased to come back because it’s a district with an interesting set of ideals and people, and it has kept my mind alive; still does.”
With that being said, the job isn’t for the weak-minded. Together, with the district school board, the superintendent develops and implements educational policies and procedures. They work to raise the academic standards of students and are in charge of planning and directing all school programs in their districts. It’s a superintendent’s job to be an advocate for parents and children by allocating funds for various necessities, guaranteeing the district’s security, and making sure it complies with local, state, and federal educational standards.
“As superintendent you’re being entrusted with something valuable, and that is the education of the next generation,” responded Dr. Josefsberg when asked what he feels is his responsibility as superintendent.
Dr. Josefsberg claims that because separate schools don’t promote a sense of community, educational districts need to boost collaboration and effort integration so that people are working together to develop a K–12 continuum. It is difficult for this change to occur due to the numerous obstacles that prevent us from feeling a sense of collaboration, which may be especially jarring for children when they transition between schools. One approach to dealing with this would be to bring people together, especially teachers.
However, Dr. Josefbserg claims from personal experience that “one of the greatest joys of teaching is being left alone, which is why one of the major issues with school systems is that teachers are left alone.”
Throughout his career, he has worked in many districts, including the Ringwood School District District in northern New Jersey, the Scarsdale Union Free School District in New York, the Mount Arlington School District, along with numerous others. Which is why we New Paltz is lucky to have someone with as much understanding of the field as Dr. Josefsberg for the time being.
He’s seen that “many areas proclaim that [they want more collaboration in schools in a district] or variations on that goal, but New Paltz seems to be more serious than other places about trying to achieve it.”
Not only is Dr. Josefsberg trying to curate a tighter knit community among faculty but with students as well hyper focusing on student voice and engagement. Because the ratio of students to teachers is greater ignoring the influence students have on a school would be neglectful. Not only is a schools job to teach adolescents mathematics and sciences, but it is also vital for schools to prepare their students for life outside of school.
And as Superintendent, Dr. Josefsberg believes “that you don’t do this by ignoring or suppressing them [students].”
It is better to acknowledge this and use it for the advantage of the school and its pupils because students will have an impact on how the institution operates. It is crucial that teens perceive the school setting as a place where they may be heard and seen, and that is the ideal Dr. Josefsberg hopes New Paltz School District will uphold. You cannot grow or progress in life if you live in silence and don’t stand up for yourself.
Although Dr. Josefsberg hopes to see these objectives materialize in our school district, his main goal in this second year of service as interim superintendent is to establish a setting and work environment that will allow the an incoming long-term superintendent to start immediately working toward some of the district’s more long-term goals.
“I’m looking to hand off the responsibility to someone else in a way that enables them to hit the ground running,” Dr. Josefsberg concludes.