By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – The Board of Education Wednesday, April 22 appointed Ventnor Elementary School Principal Carmela Somershoe as the district’s new superintendent, effective July 1.
Somershoe will replace Superintendent Eileen Johnson who is retiring on June 30.
The district conducted an extensive superintendent search using Gary P. McCartney of GPM Educational Consulting Services, who narrowed down the choices. The board interviewed several of the top candidates before agreeing to hire Somershoe.
Somershoe will serve a three-year term at a starting salary of $140,000, which is $13,953 less than Johnson’s current salary. Her employment contract, which needs to be approved by the county superintendent, will include 3% annual salary increases and the eligibility to receive 3.3% merit bonuses for each “quantitative” merit criterion achieved, and 2.5% for each “qualitative” merit achieved, up to 14.99% of her annual base salary.
Although Somershoe has a doctorate in education and a certificate of eligibility, she is in the process of obtaining a provisional administrative certificate, which is required by the NJ Dept. of Education to serve as superintendent. She will also be required to undergo mentorship during her residency period.
The board also approved a job description for a combination superintendent/principal.
According to Business Administrator Terri Nowotny, Somershoe will serve both roles.
Ventnor operates its K-8 district with two schools in the VECC building, has a superintendent, business administrator, two principals and an administrator who handles special education and curriculum. Last year, it reduced administrative staff by one position through attrition. Somershoe’s appointment will further reduce administrative costs.
She said she was looking forward to taking over as the district’s educational leader.
“We have a great school district, an awesome staff and an awesome community. I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”
Somershoe has been an educator for 24 years, starting as a third grade classroom teacher in Lawrence Township in Cumberland County. She became a reading coach and then curriculum supervisor.
“I wanted to be a principal and that’s when I came to Ventnor seven years ago,” she said.
Somershoe said she would serve in a dual capacity as superintendent and principal of grades Pre-K-2. Middle School Principal Rob Baker will take over supervision of grades 3-8.
“It’s an interesting time with the coronavirus to take over the superintendent role,” she said.
She credited teachers and support staff who have “a high level of collaboration” for getting the district through home-based learning using new technology.
“We’re using vocabulary we never knew before. It’s not only the kids learning. The teachers are learning too,” she said.
As for the future, she plans to “continue with all the great programs we have in place and build on them.”
“We are blessed to have you,” school board President Douglas Biagi said. “Hopefully, you’ll have a better year than Dr. Johnson did for her last year. She couldn’t leave on a quiet note. When the time is right, we will celebrate in the proper way,.”
Somershoe lives in Northfield with her husband and has two children, ages 17 and 19.
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