A Strategic Superintendent

Dr. Victor Valeski didn’t take the normal path to become a superintendent of schools.

Valeski-1024x812He didn’t spend years standing in front of a classroom, teaching students algebraic equations or subject-verb agreement. He didn’t grade test papers on weekends, sit through countless parent-teacher conferences or pull afternoon school bus duty.

But that hasn’t kept Valeski from excelling in public education. Last spring, he was named superintendent of schools for the East Brunswick School District in central New Jersey. The district is home to 11 schools all designated as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence with more than 8,000 students and about 1,800 staff.

While most of his peers began their careers in public education as K-12 teachers, Valeski was forecasting revenues and tallying balance sheets in the private sector. An unsuccessful run for school board in Delaware’s Caesar Rodney School District led to his first job in education as the district’s director of business and finance. He was eventually promoted to Caesar Rodney’s assistant superintendent, then worked for the state of Delaware for nearly four years, helping school divisions transition to a new finance management system.

In 2010, Valeski accepted his first position as superintendent of schools with the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District in southern New Jersey. He ended his tenure with Swedesboro-Woolwich last June, and officially began his new role with East Brunswick on July 1.

His background in finance and an MBA from Wilmington University set him apart from other candidates vying for the superintendent’s post in East Brunswick.

“They were intrigued by that, and I think that was one of the reasons I became a finalist for the job,” says Valeski, who also holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.

Not coming from the ranks of K-12 educators “allowed me to be more of a global thinker, and then for me to invest in people who are experts in their own niches,” he says. “You can build a very strong team with that global perspective, having never been a teacher for a specific grade.”

Valeski plans to focus on two big projects during his initial time at East Brunswick. In the wake of several national school shootings, Valeski will be leading an effort to enhance the safety and security of its school buildings.

A new technology initiative also will be rolled out into the district’s high schools this year, enabling students to use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for instructional purposes.

“A lot of students own that hardware already, and we are looking at ways to incorporate what they already have into the delivery of instruction during the school day,” Valeski says.

The initiative eventually will be implemented at all grade levels.

In addition to his work as a super-intendent, Valeski is an adjunct professor for WilmU’s master’s program in educational leadership.

“I think one of the things I learned very quickly is you never stop being a student, no matter what kind of degree or training you have,” he says. WU

—Donna Gregory