Ocean City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor said in a letter Friday that she will retire from the district on Aug. 1, after 15 years at the helm.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
April 16, 2021
Dear School Community:
As superintendent of the Ocean City School District, I have had the privilege and good fortune to work with a progressive and supportive Board of Education, a knowledgeable, student-centered administrative team, and dedicated collaborative faculty and staff, who have the best interest of students as their top focus.
All these individuals – my colleagues – have challenging jobs that require hard work and ingenuity to operate effectively and efficiently in a comprehensive school system.
I can say without hesitation that these individuals are highly skilled educators and staff, whom I respect and admire as we endeavor in making this a preeminent School District.
After a great deal of thoughtful consideration, I have submitted to the School Board my notice of intent to retire as of August 1, 2021. From my first day as a teacher through the last day of my career, I never waver in my focus on who is most important – students.
Every day I champion children, from witnessing them learning, planning for their successes, tying their shoes in the hallways, giving high-fives, attending their games and performances, celebrating accomplishments, cheering them on to be the best that they can be, to sending them personal notes to recognize the differences they made in our community.
I will really miss the students.
Therefore, it is fitting that following my retirement, I intend to continue as an advocate for students in professional avenues.
Additionally, I want to spend more time with my family and my beautiful grandchildren.
The community support for a top-quality education program for their children and those who live in our community is outstanding.
During my 15-year tenure as the Ocean City Superintendent of Schools, we have been through an ebb and flow of significant district matters. Without a community like ours, it would have been nearly impossible to manage and lead through those unprecedented and unpredictable days.
I am most appreciative of the OCEF, OCPTA, parent committees, booster clubs, the City of Ocean City, OCPD, OCFD, OCFPL, OCHM, the Tabernacle, professional services, and the many community organizations for their long-standing partnerships with the School District.
Throughout my tenure, I have experienced levels of support most superintendents can only hope for during their careers.
Serving at the helm, I am proud of the countless number of accomplishments that happened in this School District.
The most notable ones are enacting a strategic plan focused on equity, improving student academic performances, starting full-day preschool, stabilizing student enrollment, expanding college and career options, and further establishing college and university partnerships.
In addition, there has been an implementation of adaptable technologies and innovative programs, an emphasis on personalized learning and educating the whole child, our sports, visual and performing arts programs and activities have been expanded, safety and security measures have been enhanced, and a strong, dedicated focus has been placed on mental health supports and services for our PK-12 students.
These achievements provide scaffolds for students to continue to reach out as far and as high as they can. They also are representative samples of our District mission of “Committed to Excellence.”
Because of this commitment it has been my most distinct honor to serve this multiple state and national award-winning School District.
It has also been an honor to work with outstanding, inspirational colleagues throughout New Jersey and in many other states as well.
Working with them on solving problems, striving for academic achievement of all students, promoting women as educational leaders, serving on committees and task forces at the local, county, regional, and state levels, we have made an impactful difference in education and in students’ lives.
I want to thank also all those connected with the New Jersey Association for School Administrators and New Jersey School Boards Association for their support, guidance, leadership in school matters and for their friendship.
Since I have been 4 years old, I have only known school. Starting my educational career in September 1973, I have been part of a remarkable evolution in American education focused on equal rights and equal access for all students, while endeavoring to close the achievement gaps.
During these forty-eight years, I have not only had an active part in sweeping educational reforms, at times, I have led the way. For my leadership, I was recognized as the 2018 New Jersey Superintendent of the Year.
A profound change is occurring now in education due to the pandemic’s impact on schooling. Colleagues, associations, consortiums, and education departments will continue to lead the way in responding to this seismic change by creating a more flexible, equitable and resilient school environment designed to encourage each student’s constructive curiosity in exploring personal opportunities to learn.
Therefore, retiring now is a perfect time. The School District is ready for another visionary superintendent, one who can continue to lead this district, continue to challenge the status quo, and maximize the benefits of this evolutionary time for the next generation of students.
Finally, I want to give a sincere thank you to current board member Jim Bauer, who served on the Board who hired me fifteen years ago.
There is a special place in my heart for deceased Board members, Audrey Eichenberger, Charlene Zoerb, and Tom Oves, whose life mission were to champion students — and they did every day.
It has been a privilege to have a special professional partnership with each of the five Board Presidents, who I worked with closely in sharing the stewardship responsibilities of leading this School District.
And a deep, heartfelt thank you to former and present School Board members during my tenure — our beliefs in the sanctity of children is the reason the Ocean City School District is a designated Lighthouse District.
I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead this School District and deeply grateful to be able to finish my educational career in the top-notched School District of Ocean City.
Kathleen W. Taylor, Ed.D.