Montclair Board of Education president Eve Robinson announced a new superintendent for Montclair Schools at Wednesday’s BOE meeting – Dr. Jonathan Ponds.
Dr. Ponds has been the superintendent/principal of the Robert L. Craig School in Moonachie. He will assume his new position in Montclair in July and has a five-year contract.
BOE member Priscilla Church said his district was very disappointed to see Dr. Ponds leave and that he was a visionary who was well respected by families in the community.
BOE member Jessica de Koninck said Dr. Ponds is eager, enthusiastic, flexible and creative — “all the things we need in Montclair.”
After singing Dr. Pond’s praises, the Board voted him in unanimously and with a round of applause.
Robinson said there was an expressed need for confidentiality throughout the process at the request of the superintendent candidates, which is why the public was not given more information about the candidates.
Dr. Jonathan Ponds, after some technical difficulty, was able to join the remote meeting and introduce himself, as well as his wife and his sons.
“I’m excited to serve for many years in Montclair,” Dr. Ponds said. “I’m excited to cooperate with all stakeholders. I’m excited to immerse myself in the passion and beautiful diversity of Montclair. I’m excited to work together with everyone and to make sure every child, every one of our children are successful.”
Official statement from Montclair Schools:
Dr. Ponds, current Superintendent in Moonachie, NJ, commences his service July 1, 2020 and his contract extends to June 30, 2025. Despite the unexpected and challenging events that have transformed the District and town, the Board was committed to continuing its timeline for the search for a permanent Superintendent as announced in the fall of 2019. Using remote meeting capabilities to conduct interviews, the Board screened 14 applicants. The Board was committed to reaching a unanimous agreement and is happy to report that this process proved successful.
Dr. Ponds has a distinguished career as an educator, coach, and scholar. He impressed each Board member with his depth of knowledge and experience, as well as his articulate descriptions of his educational philosophy and approach. His professional experience in a variety of settings has been successful in impacting both practice and climate in schools.
As the Superintendent of Schools/Principal of the Moonachie Public Schools in Moonachie, NJ, he is credited with turning around a culturally and economically diverse student and family population. Under his leadership he raised student achievement, increased public support, established significant university, state, and local support, and established exemplary fiscal practices. He will be completing his fifth year in Moonachie when he transitions to Montclair.
Prior to Moonachie, he was Principal of the 780 student Parsons Elementary School in North Brunswick, NJ from August 2012 until August 2015. He implemented notable best practices in the school aimed at improving student achievement as well as creating thriving acceleration programs for students performing above grade level.
Dr. Ponds served as a Special Education teacher, basketball coach, vice principal, and dean of students prior to his building and district leadership positions.
He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. His doctoral thesis is entitled, “A Case Study of Culturally Responsive Training Influence on Teachers’ Self-efficacy and Instructional Strategies Regarding their Low-income, Minority Students.” He earned a Master of Education degree with a concentration in Moderate Special Needs from Cambridge College, in Cambridge, MA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina where he earned a full scholarship to play Division II soccer. As a lifelong learner who takes seriously the promise of education for all, he also earned a Certificate of Advanced Educational Leadership (CAEL) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Eve Robinson, Board President, shared comments from one of Dr. Pond’s many references, who noted that, “He is a generalist with specific knowledge – doing all the jobs of a school district. A solid, solid professional man of character!” Another said, “He cares deeply about equity and all people and what is right and wrong. He is a good listener and will work well with all constituents. He has the humility to listen to those who have advice. He is a person with a bright future and an asset to any district.”
Robinson also offered a reflection on the Board’s decision. “The Board of Education is happy and proud to introduce Montclair to Dr. Jonathan Ponds,” she said. “We are excited to enter this new decade with a proven leader at the helm.”
Upon his appointment, Dr. Ponds released the following statement:
My passion to educate all children and my conviction that all children can learn stems from my roots growing up in rural Alabama and seeing the power of opportunity provided through education. For over 20 years, I have collaborated with all stakeholders to meet a plethora of educational challenges with the foundation of educating all children. I began my educational journey in Massachusetts before relocating to New Jersey. I started my career as a special needs teacher in Boston and worked through the levels as a building administrator, Principal and Superintendent. While pursuing my doctorate, I researched strategies that would enhance the education of all children. Upon the many strategies that I investigated, Cultural Responsiveness is one strategy that I have not only used as a practitioner but have presented as a guest speaker, discussed as a panelist and currently teach to future principals, central office administrators and superintendents as an adjunct professor. I have been blessed to be an educator in diverse communities, and I have witnessed the power of diversity excel all children to excellence. I truly believe that diversity is a strength.