Members of the Cedar Grove School District took time Tuesday night to honor one of their own - Dr. Gene Polles, who will retire at the end of June.
The board officially accepted Polles’ resignation during the public session portion of the meeting, thanking him for his efforts during his eight-year stint as superintendent.
“My time within the Cedar Grove School system has been a fulfilling experience,” said Polles. “While I will surely enjoy the leisure time and intellectual pursuits afforded by retirement, I will miss my colleagues, many of whom have become true friends.”
The board took turns praising Polles and what he has meant to the district.
“I've had the pleasure of working with Dr. Polles closely for the last four years and he has always had the best interest in the community and students first,” said Cedar Grove Board of Education President Frank Mandala, Jr.
“He has moved us in the right direction, fulfilled every one of the goals we set and put us in a far stronger position than we have ever been in,” he added.
Mandala credits district's curriculum changes, increased test scores and building and facility improvements for all happening under Polles’ watch.
“I wish everyone in Cedar Grove the very best and I consider myself the luckiest person in the world because I have had the joy of leading this district with our incredible students, our hardworking, dedicated faculty and staff and our committed new administrative team,” said Polles.
“The power to improve children’s lives has been the most rewarding part of this job,” he added.
The district is already in the process of seeking a new superintendent, a process that can take several months, said Mandala.
“We don't want to make any hasty decisions,” he said. “It's a community effort and we are going to make sure everyone is involved every step of the way.”
As far as filling Polle's shoes, Mandala feels it will be an easy transition for the new superintendent because of where Dr. Polles has positioned the district, but difficult because they are “going to have to fill the shoes of someone who can really make things happen,” he said.
“It's bittersweet,” Mandala said, “I'm happy for him but it's going to be a disappointment to see him leave,” he added.
While looking forward to retirement, Polles also has a few goals to accomplish before leaving the district.
“Right now the top priorities will be to finalize our district budget, continue our progress in the new teacher evaluation pilot program, finalize the updates of new and existing curriculum, close-out the existing building project and prepare the district for the upcoming school year so that the new superintendent has a smooth transition to the district,” he said.