Robert Beers

Bridgewater-Raritan Superintendent of Schools Discusses Priorities, Challenges and What Makes Our School System Great

What drew you to the field of education?
As a student at Sayreville High School, I was fortunate to have teachers and coaches who I credit with changing the trajectory of my life. I believe my life would have been very different if I did not have experienced coaches like Brian Merrigan, Bill Scarola and Bill Doll, and teachers like Rita Vail and Marianne Quiatkowski. I’ll never forget how they helped me and how their influence inspired me to enter the field and become what I feel is the most influential and noble profession in the world.

What attracted you to apply for the position of Superintendent?
As a lifelong educator and New Jersey resident, I am keenly aware of the positive attributes of the Bridgewater-Raritan community. The school system has long been considered one of the best in the state. I applied for this position hoping I could take some of my knowledge and experience developed in various districts and help the school district move forward and continue its tradition of excellence. 

What should people know about the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District public referendum in March?
This referendum will help us modernize our learning environments: HVAC, indoor air quality, classroom updates and all-purpose room updates. It will allow us to enhance educational offerings and student experience, such as providing full-day kindergarten and creating an authentic middle school experience for grades 6 to 8. Structural improvements will address safety and security throughout the district by replacing interior and exterior doors and adding security vestibules to each building.

The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District is a high-performing district with aging facilities. We need to upgrade our buildings and instructional space to meet the needs of our students. It is essential for our residents to vote because the referendum must pass for the district to receive debt service aid from the State of New Jersey. Debt service aid is approximately 34 percent of the overall project costs, representing significant savings to the taxpayers of Bridgewater and Raritan. 

Full-day kindergarten will have a tremendous impact on learning and taxpayers within the community. This service will place our students and programs on par with similar districts. 

The middle school addition will create an optimal environment for learning for our students. Creating a grade band of 6th to 8th grades will enhance curricular offerings, co-curricular offerings and differentiated outcomes for Special Education and Gifted and Talented students. 

Discuss the importance of improved security in the schools and the measures being taken. 
The security of our entire school community is paramount to the operation of our schools. We have taken a holistic approach to safety as the district has invested in swipe card and camera systems. We have monitored crosswalks and pick-up and drop-off areas and are implementing a best practices approach to our visitors’ policy. Approximately 10,000 people visit our campuses daily, including our students, teachers and staff, and we continue to work diligently to ensure their safety. 

The district hired a Manager and Assistant Manager of District Security who serve as the Superintendent’s designee and remain the point of communication for security issues throughout the district. Additionally, we hired multiple campus monitors who are retired from law enforcement and rotate between our buildings. These individuals work collaboratively with our School Resource Officers and Class Three Officers to provide an optimal environment for our students and staff. 

You were a successful athletic coach during your career and were named New Jersey State Track Coach of the Year in 1998 by The Star-Ledger. How does your experience coaching inform your work as superintendent?
In my younger years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to coach track and field and cross country at both Roxbury and Mendham high schools. As a former high school and college athlete, I welcomed the chance to coach at the high school level. Fortunately, at both institutions we built excellent programs, producing multiple state championship teams and student-athletes who won and placed in championship events at the county, state and national levels. 

My coaching experience has helped me throughout my career by always focusing on the process and the “long game.” Essentially, you have to be committed to bringing positive energy and work ethic to the table every day and remain focused on team outcomes. There are inevitable challenges we face, but a commitment to core values and exhibiting the discipline to overcome distractions and “noise” will always steer the team or organization in the right direction. 

You have to be committed to bringing positive energy and work ethic to the table every day.

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