HAZLET, NJ - On October 18, 2011, the Hazlet Township Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, Jr. as Superintendent of Schools. The vacancy was created last month when Dr. William O. George was appointed by the Middletown Township Public Schools to lead their district. Dr. Bragen has served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Hazlet since November 2007. Board of Education President, Stephen F. Willig stated, “The Board, and the entirety of Hazlet Township, are fortunate to be able to turn to such a high caliber individual to lead the District as Dr. Bragen. Through our direct involvement with Dr. Bragen over the past four years, the Board has seen the superior quality and character of this individual demonstrated on a daily basis. In the process of reaching a determination on who would be the next Superintendent, the Board noted how impressed we were not only with Dr. Bragen’s demonstrated achievements in the District but also with his vision for ongoing improvements. We will continue to expect great achievements by our students under the new supervision and guidance of Dr. Bragen.”
Dr. Bragen’s educational experience includes working as a Special Education Teacher, Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant, Supervisor of Special Services, Assistant Principal, Principal, and most recently as Assistant Superintendent in the Hazlet Township Public Schools.
While working as an integral member of the Central Office administrative team in the Hazlet Township Public Schools, Dr. Bragen helped oversee the implementation of several initiatives that have had a profound impact on the students in the Hazlet School District. Under the direction of the Board of Education two years ago, the District was reconfigured, which created an Early Childhood Learning Center to provide full day kindergarten with no additional teaching staff, balanced class sizes in grades first through fourth, and subject specific instruction in grades fifth and sixth. The reconfiguration also permitted the District to create a three tier transportation system, providing transportation to more students at a reduced cost.
Collaboratively, with staff input, the Hazlet Public Schools developed their Essential Teaching Behaviors, a rubric for teacher evaluation currently in its fourth revision. In addition, the District’s Intervention and Referral Services process was restructured, resulting in a 40% reduction in initial Child Study Team referral rates, while allowing schools to assist more students without special education classification.
Dr. Bragen has actively participated in all of the District’s recent financial decisions, including the self-insured prescription program scheduled to save almost $300,000 this year, bond refinancing, which will save $1,000,000 over a twenty-year period, and the District’s solar energy Power Purchase Agreement, a cutting edge endeavour, that will save the District $1.7 million over 15 years in electricity costs.
In the area of curriculum, several initiatives recently implemented include elementary adoptions of inquiry-based mathematics and science programs, a district-wide anti-bullying curriculum and the adoption of a new elementary language arts curriculum, focusing on individual student needs. Technology expansion included 54 new SMART boards installed this summer, which was the first step towards outfitting each preschool through fourth grade classroom with this technology within the next few weeks.
The Hazlet Township School District created a Professional Development Academy offering staff, administrators and parents over 1,000 professional development opportunities over the past three years, providing continuous opportunities for professional growth to best meet students’ needs. This academy is expanded this year under the recent collective bargaining agreement with the Hazlet Township Education Association. Staff will meet for twenty-five one hour meetings after the school day, improving instructional practices for the betterment of all Hazlet students.
“I am grateful for the opportunity provided to me to represent such a progressive school district and to work for a Board of Education whose forward thinking has led to the creation of numerous initiatives that enhance the educational programs for our students,” stated Dr. Bragen. “I look forward to the opportunity to lead a team that can build upon the strong educational foundation created by previous administrations and Boards of Education,” he added.
Several “Meet the Superintendent” events will be scheduled over the next weeks, giving all of the stakeholders of Hazlet the chance to have a cup of coffee with the new Superintendent and to discuss the Hazlet Township Public Schools.