Superintendent of Schools Dr. effective Dec. 31, 2012. He was appointed as superintendent of the West Orange School district on July 1, 2009. The following is a statement released by Cavanna on Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony P. Cavanna is the departing Superintendent of Schools for the West Orange Public School District. The district serves just over 7,000 students in grades Pre K through 12, and is located in the center of Essex County, New Jersey, a community of approximately 45,000 residents. The population is culturally diverse and spans all economic strata, as is reflected in the student body of The Public Schools where over 50 languages are spoken by students.
Since taking over the helm of schools in West Orange, Dr. Cavanna has implemented strategies and programs that have led the district to prepare its students for 21st century learning. The foundation for this was the development of a five-year strategic plan to increase student performance. This was followed by the district applying for, and becoming, the recipient of a $2.2 million Smaller Learning Community grant to redesign the learning environment at West Orange High School into one that better prepares students for post-secondary education and the workplace. During Dr. Cavanna's tenure, the District's accomplishments included the receipt of over $4,000,000 in Federal grants and other new revenue. As a result, the District has been able to increase student achievement and maintain and improve programs in the face of significant reductions in State aid.
Other initiatives include the implementation of a new mathematics curriculum grades Pre-K through 8, a new literacy program grades Pre-K through 8, using data to drive decision-making, more early college opportunities, more opportunities for on-line learning, academic standards for participation in athletics, fostering community engagement in the public schools, establishing a Health & Wellness committee, and a Sustainability committee. As a result of these efforts, students’ academic performance improved and the “achievement gap” has closed or been reduced as verified by test scores and academic grades; and the district is operating more efficiently as reflected in the school business plan and budget, which has been capped for the last several years. West Orange High School has been named for the second year in a row as one of America’s best high schools by Newsweek Magazine and has been recognized by the College Board as an Advanced Placement Achievement District for the number of students involved in the AP program and the high grades they receive.
Dr. Cavanna brought an extensive background in K-12 education to his position. In addition to meeting the district goals, in a recent 360 Degree Evaluation of his leadership, he received extremely favorable feedback from various consistencies.
Prior to West Orange, he was a school reform scientist and vice-president for the American Institutes for Research in Washington D.C., a not-for-profit firm committed to school reform and designing educational systems which increase academic achievement. In this role, he guided design systems that assisted educators in meeting the needs of all students by providing customized professional support and tools to improve student learning. He worked with schools, school districts, state departments of education, foundations and associations at the national level.
In New York, Dr. Cavanna served as a deputy superintendent of schools in New York City and superintendent of schools in the Old Bethpage Public School District, Plainview, New York, where the district was named one of the top 100 school districts in the nation. In New Jersey, Dr. Cavanna served as superintendent in Fort Lee and Rahway, where he continued to lead reform efforts to raise student achievement and foster excellence in culturally and language diverse school districts.
Early on, he began his career as a mathematics teacher, ultimately becoming the founding principal of the Mott Hall School of Mathematics, Science and Technology on the campus of City College in New York City. This magnet school is cited as a model of excellence and continues to be replicated in states throughout the nation.
Dr. Cavanna holds a Doctorate of Education and a Professional Diploma in Educational Leadership, Urban Education and Policy from Fordham University, as well as a Masters of Science Degree in Educational Technology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Education from the City University of New York.
Dr. Cavanna sincerely appreciates having the opportunity to work with the staff, parents, community members and especially making contributions to the education of the students the district serves.