Superintendent Has "Bittersweet" Feelings About Retiring
Dr. Charles Montesano will begin college professing full time this fall
Dr. Charles Montesano, who has served as Superintendent of Mahwah schools for the past seven years, says it is with “bittersweet” feelings that he leaves Mahwah, to move on to a full-time professing position at Caldwell College.
Montesano, whose last day will be Friday, said his feelings about leaving run the gamut; “It’s all of the above. There are so many things I am going to miss but at the same time I am excited to move on.”
Montesano, who has been an adjunct Caldwell professor for ten years, said he learned of the full time position there and decided to do it after his decision to retire.
The change will be particularly poignant for Montesano, who comes from a long line of superintendents. His father was Bergenfield’s superintendent, and three of his four brothers took on the same role in other districts – one recently retired from Hackensack, one is currently in Ramsey, and another is in Paramus, but soon leaving to take the position in Nyack, NY.
Dr. Montesano, or “Charlie” as he is known to friends and colleagues, has worked in education for over 37 years. He began as a history teacher in Cresskill, was a teacher, supervisor, Athletic Director and elementary school principal in Wallington, high school principal at Ramapo and Park Ridge, and served as the superintendent in Emerson for 11 years before coming to Mahwah.
“One night, driving through Mahwah, I commented that it would be the only district I’d leave Emerson for, and that was before the position opened up. I was familiar with the town, and I like the diversity of it and the community’s support for education. I thought it would be a great place to work, and I was right,” he said.
Montesano, who grew up in Hackensack, said the district, teachers and students never failed to live up to his expectations.
“There’s been a stable Board [of Education] who has been wonderful and great to work with,” he said.
The superintendent said he is particularly proud of early learning and reading programs the group implemented that he said have resulted in “less and less kids needing remediation.”
“And the kids just achieve so much here. I am truly in awe of them sometimes.”
Montesano said he thinks the district will “continue to get better and better,” after he leaves. He is confident that the district’s new leadership, which includes a one-year interim superintendent, Dr. Karen Lake, and new administrators at the elementary schools, will build on projects he and the board began.
“I know the district will keep moving forward with things like implementing technology and managing 21st century skills, merging them with the core curriculum,” he said.
He said he hopes the future will also hold good things for teachers in the district, who have been unable to negotiate a contract with the board since the current one expired last June.
“The teachers have been extremely respectful and professional though the entire process; there was a relationship that was in place before I got here and I hope that continues,” he said.
“The new healthcare and pension laws might help them reach a settlement.”
Though negotiations will continue, they will do so without Montesano.
“I am excited for new things, and really looking forward to having the summers off,” he said.