The new leader of a Westchester school district has a long career in education - he’s entering his 40th year - and no shortage of enthusiasm.
Dr. Joel Adelberg was appointed superintendent in Bedford Central School District. He said he’s taking on the role with “humility and pride,” in the Board of Education’s announcement this week. An Armonk resident, he grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Greenwich as a junior in high school. Adelberg has a doctorate from Fordham University in educational leadership.
Adelberg is not unfamiliar with the job because he recently served the district as acting superintendent, since November, appointed when Dr. Christopher Manno took medical leave. Adelberg next became interim superintendent in March when Manno retired.
His career started as a social studies teacher. He moved on to be an administrator in Greenwich before becoming the assistant principal at Horace Greeley High School and then the principal of Croton Harmon High School for seven years. Adelberg came to Bedford in 2008 as principal of Fox Lane High School and worked there for another seven years before becoming the assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, in which capacity he served until this past fall.
“I’m humbled, honored and grateful for the support of the board, staff and the community, which I’ve felt throughout my tenure with Bedford Central schools — and especially during this year, which has been so challenging,” Adelberg said.
“The Board is confident Dr. Adelberg is the right person to lead our district through these uncertain times as we continue to plan for the future of the Bedford Central School District,” said Board of Education President Colette Dow in the BOE announcement.
"Joel has proven his commitment to our district," she added, "and his deep knowledge of our community is an invaluable strength that we will continue to rely on as we move forward. His students-first focus will be the driving force behind our district’s future success under his leadership.”
You might say the job of a superintendent in a school district is similar to that of the top executive of a company. According to Adelberg, the role is to "represent, lead and facilitate" the work of the district.
"I am the CEO of the school district. Our building and district leaders report to me. I want to be as involved as much as I can in curriculum and instruction while supporting our building leaders, the assistant superintendent of Curriculum Instruction, our teacher leaders, and, of course, all of our teachers,” he said in an email.
As superintendent, Adelberg explained he works closely with the Board of Education. He said he looks forward to "being as connected as possible to community groups and parents of our students. My goal is to be as accessible and as visible as possible so that I can help facilitate solutions to problems and challenges, but also to articulate a vision for our district."
He also represents the school district with state agencies and regional partners. But one partner stands out from all others.
“Our most important partners and stakeholders are our parents,” Adelberg stated.
"These last few months have been challenging, beyond anything we’ve ever experienced before. The disconnect with other families, with teachers and school staff, the changes to all routines, and the challenges that came with delivery of instruction in an entirely different manner were huge. And, families, as well as members of the staff, suffered their own losses and faced great uncertainty.”
Given the unusual circumstances, parents and their children have dealt with the past four months and now looking ahead to schools reopening, Adelberg would ask parents for “patience and support.”
Among advice for parents Adelberg suggests they "support all of our students, applaud resilience, flexibility and perseverance. We will educate all of our students while keeping them healthy and safe. Our children need to see that their parents and teachers are true partners."
“We are committed to doing the best for our students," Adelberg added. "We are committed to raising the stakes and providing the highest quality of education we can. We also know that our students are returning in a few weeks with some deficits in their learning as a result of the last few months.
"Whether schools reopen in-person, remotely, or in some hybrid fashion, we know that we will probably be tasked with changing from one mode of instruction to another in a moment’s notice. I hope we will also be able to gradually bring back our students so they learn where they learn best, with their teachers and their peers in our classrooms and schools. We all share that goal."