Ross Kasun, Ed.D., Chief Education Officer, Freehold Township School District, was selected as New Jersey's 2017 candidate for the American Association of School Administrators' (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year Award by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA). In a procedure where the NJASA names candidates for the Northern, Central and Southern regions, Dr. Kasun as Central representative was ultimately chosen as the state's candidate for the national honor. His leadership has assisted in driving change in the district at an astonishing rate. NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard G. Bozza said, "Ross Kasun is a dedicated, hard-working professional who continually strives to improve the quality of education for all students. He is a remarkable chief education officer with vision, imagination, and compassion for the students he serves." However, in accepting this prestigious honor, he was quick to share acknowledgement for the achievement with his district, stating, "This is truly a team effort and an awesome recognition for the Freehold Township Schools." According to Kasun, it is the servant leadership concept learned at Seton Hall University – the focus of his doctoral dissertation - that he tries to exemplify while striving to support every individual in his organization to reach and perform at his/her best.
Kasun received his Bachelor of Science in Finance (1989), Master of Education in Elementary Education (1994) and Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision (2009) at Seton Hall University. "I am most definitely 'true blue'. I started as a finance major, and that led to being a GA (graduate assistant). Aside from the quality of education, the immense sense of spirit and community I found at SHU made me realize that I wanted to continue for as long as I thought I could benefit and personally grow by giving back. It has absolutely shaped the person I am today," states Kasun. He particularly cited the cohort model of his doctoral program for providing the strong collegial network of different types of "learning leaders" from across the country with whom he still shares ideas and consultation to this day.
Kasun's vision for his district entailed fostering "leadership for learning" by developing, coaching and mentoring his team of 28 principals, assistant principals and supervisors. His leadership encouraged the team to be innovators, take risks, and develop personalized pilots in their schools that impact student learning accordingly. States Kasun, "I wanted to give my team the resources they needed, while also allowing for the autonomy to develop themselves and their projects individually. Everyone's different. Empowering them resulted in allowing us to reshape and reframe our schools with new thinking that generated a wave of excitement across the district." Together, under his tutelage, the Freehold Township School District initiated a blended and personalized learning approach with students being leaders in their own learning.
While the achievement gap and trying to find better ways to meet all students' needs are not new, strategically planning and implementing personalized learning on a broad scale is the one thing of which Kasun is proudest in his 15 years of experience as a school administrator. His work has guided the district's approach to education to be data driven, technology infused and personalized, which has brought about accelerated growth for all students.
For a period of time post-graduating with his first degree from Seton Hall, Ross Kasun entered the professional world via the fast-paced, volatile route through Wall Street, where everyday life is a commodity to be traded or sold. However, once he began thinking about what his true calling would be that could positively impact the future, he returned to earn his Masters of Education and begin a journey that would end up not only shaping his life, but those of many children for years to come. "I get immense satisfaction from helping to develop these kids. Changing course and coming back to Seton Hall allowed me to fully realize my long term passion."
In reference to servant leadership, Kasun states, "I admire and support the famous quote of our 33rd U.S. President Harry S. Truman, "'It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.'"
AASA will announce the National Superintendent of the Year at its Annual Conference on Education in March 2017. The recipient of this prestigious honor will receive a $10,000 college scholarship for a student at the high school from which the superintendent graduated.
The Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy at Seton Hall University is dedicated to serving students seeking educational leadership roles in public, private and parochial schools, colleges, universities, non-profit organizations and other education policy organizations.