Timothy Purnell, Ed.D. '08
Timothy Purnell, Ed.D. '08, an alumnus of the College of Education and Human Services Executive Ed.D. K-12 School Administration program, has been named 2016 Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents. He has served as the superintendent of Somerville Public Schools since 2011.
The National Association of School Superintendents is a professional organization of school superintendents dedicated to advancing members' success and promoting their profession. "I am extremely humbled and honored to be selected as Superintendent of the Year," said Purnell. "This award is a result of the hard work and efforts of the Somerville community."
Purnell also credits the University's Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy for providing him with the skills needed to receive such an honor. "The Executive Ed.D. program is an outstanding program that I highly recommended to educators," said Purnell. "When I look back at my educational experiences, my best courses were at Seton Hall University. I learned how to be a visionary leader through a systems thinking approach."
The honoree serves on the New Jersey State Board of Examiners and as an adjunct professor. Prior to his post as superintendent of Somerville Public Schools, he worked as the superintendent in Harding Township. He also served as a middle school principal, elementary vice principal and science teacher in Harding Township and Montclair. He was selected as the 2015 New Jersey State Superintendent of the Year and the 2015 top-rated professor in the nation by Rate My Professors.
"I knew Dr. Purnell as a student in our doctoral program and I worked with him when he became a superintendent as his mentor," said Michael Osnato, chair of the Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy and director of the Institute for Education Leadership, Research and Renewal at Seton Hall. "As a previous honoree of the New Jersey award, I was delighted to see him named Superintendent of the Year."
Purnell valued the Executive Ed.D. program's accelerated pace and commitment to collaboration. "The cohort model that Seton Hall affords is a true learning experience where you can share with a network of colleagues that are from around the nation," he said. "We were able to share in the experience together which provided cohort members with multiple perspectives into our studies."
"Our programs have produced more than 100 superintendents in New Jersey and throughout the county," said Osnato. "We also have alumni who serve on the State Commissioner of Education and more than 600 school and district leaders."
Purnell stays connected to Seton Hall by mentoring the next generation of educators. He recently hired former Somerville student and Seton Hall alumnus Joseph Martinelli Jr.'16 to serve as a middle school teacher. "It's so important to have your graduates come back and give back to the community by serving as an educator in their hometown. It says a lot about the community and the value of the educational process in Somerville."
Purnell applies his Seton Hall education to create innovative programming for his district. He launched #allin4theVille on Twitter to promote community engagement, created a program where students can earn their associates degree while in high school, launched a separate non-traditional, competency-based high school and provides students with opportunities to apply learning through real-world experiences with partnerships with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and LaRue PR.
"Our district believes in being all in for our children every day," said Purnell. "We cannot solve issues in public education from the lens of public education alone. We need to form partnerships to enrich the learning experiences for our children. In Somerville, we go out and find partnerships every year to make that happen."
The Executive Ed.D. program provides an accelerated doctoral degree exclusively for certified and practicing K-12 school administrators. Students, who have come from 30 states and seven foreign countries, are part of a cohort team and are afforded opportunities for professional sharing and cooperative activity. In support of a fast-start on the dissertation, each student is assigned to a full-time staff member who serves as adviser/mentor immediately. The 54-credit, two-year program provides a convenient, hybrid course schedule that takes place on-campus and online.