Meet the New Irvington Superintendent: Dr. Kristopher Harrison

A Q&A with Irvington Union Free School District’s superintendent on his new job and the 2012-13 school year.

Name: Dr. Kristopher Harrison

Age: (did not give an answer) 

Where do you live? I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey

/start date: ; started July 1, 2012 

: 5 years; base annual salary of $249,124; by his fifth year, it will have increased incrementally to $264,372

Previous experience: Superintendent of Mendham Township School District N.J. from 2008 through June 2012; Principal of Maplewood Middle School in the School District of South Orange and Maplewood, N.J. from 2004 to 2008; prior positions include principal, assistant principal and classroom teacher beginning in the Walter O. Krumbiegle Middle School in Hillside, N.J., in 1994

Education: Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, College of Saint Elizabeth (2011); master’s degree in Education, Administration and Supervision from Rutgers University (2000); bachelor’s degree is in Elementary Education/Sociology from Kean College of New Jersey (1995). His certifications include New Jersey Principal, School Administrator and K-8 Teaching

Why did you want to become a school administrator? 

My journey into school leadership was a natural progression that in many ways was fostered by my mentors.  As I progressed in my career, I was regularly introduced to new opportunities that developed my skill set and personal vision for education, which created a desire to have a greater influence on the education of as many students as possible.

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I love my profession, as you realize the impact of your efforts in each and every classroom on a daily basis. To this end, I strive to be visible and visit schools as often as possible to witness the talents of our students and teachers at work.

Why did you choose the Irvington School District?

I like to think Irvington and I found each other. As I began my research on this amazing opportunity, I was rapidly attracted to Irvington. The rich history of the community and the schools was most appealing. Throughout the interview process, I fell in love with the school district and was intrigued by the opportunity to work with such a fine, dedicated collection of educators, students, and parents. 

What do you love best about Irvington and its school district?

I have been quite impressed with the level of commitment and support that exists for the schools.  There are numerous groups including the PTSA, Irvington Education Foundation, Irvington Diversity Foundation, and countless individuals who are dedicated to assisting school staff to provide the very best educational experiences for the children in our charge.

What did you do to prepare for your new role/what have you been working on/focusing on since you started on July 1?

Much of my preparation has focused on connecting with the many important organizations and individuals in the community and District.  I believe that by developing strong relationships and understanding the perspectives and needs of the community will enable me to effectively guide the District to serve their needs, while continuing to collaborate with the faculty, staff, BOE, and leadership team to accelerate student achievement.

What are you most looking forward to in the 2012-13 school year?

The summer months have been wonderful, as I have been able to work closely with the administrative team to prepare for a successful school year. However, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the students and faculty.  Once we are engaged in the teaching and learning process, we will be able to entrench ourselves in the work that is my passion.

What challenges face the school district this year and how do you plan to handle them?

Like most school districts, the challenges in Irvington will grow out of the fiscal constraints that surround public finance. We will have to strategize means to reduce spending, conserve available funds, and introduce new revenue streams. 

Additionally, a clear focus must be placed on the effective implementation of APPR and the integration of the Common Core Learning Standards. This will require a tremendous amount of professional development to support the needs of the faculty and an appreciation for the ultimate goal of enhancing student achievement. 

By remaining focused on the objective of improving achievement and enhancing student experiences, there is little question that we will overcome any challenge.  

What would you like to accomplish/focus on in the 2012-13 school year?

Heading in to the new school year, my goal is to be a strong listener and an active listener to observe every aspect of District business in action. By doing so, I will begin to appreciate the needs that are present and begin to strategize with my to colleagues to identify the most appropriate process to improvement. Also, through this process we will identify the many strengths that are present and strategize methods of learning from these examples of achievement to enhance other areas.

How do you plan to approach budgetary issues in Irvington?

As we are still settling into the tax levy cap and face the challenges associated with escalating costs, we must be open to new ideas to fund essential needs and seek opportunities to reduce expenditures while seeking new revenue streams.  Throughout the budget process, we must host open dialogue about the challenges we face and outline a wide array of options to help the Board make wise, student-centered decisions.

Anything else you would like to add...

From the date I was hired in February, I have been touched by how warmly I have been welcomed by the entire Irvington community. I sincerely appreciate how inviting and supportive the school community has been. I am extremely motivated to work with our partners in education to provide a world-class education for our children and look forward to celebrating our achievements with the entire Irvington community.


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