By DON STINE
After 10 years in the position Neptune School Superintendent David A. Mooij is stepping down from his job.
“It has been a great time and I now have wonderful, lifelong relationships that have developed professionally and personally. I feel very blessed,” he said.
But Mooij, whose retirement goes into effect July 1, said he is retiring with “mixed emotions.”
“I have enjoyed my time here tremendously and I still do. But it is apparent to me that it is time to move on and for new leadership to come in- and I am accepting of that,” he said.
In 2014, the school board approved Mooij’s the retirement, who has served as school’s superintendent since January, 2005. He replaced former School Superintendent Michael T. Lake and his replacement is expected to be announced at the end of this month.
Mooij, 63, said he is very proud of various educational initiatives completed under his tenure, including increasing academic standards and student test scores.
“The district also grew in enrollment. A lot of students in the early 2000s were going private schools but we built new facilities and private school enrollment went down and public school enrollment went up,” he said.
“And I am very proud to have been able to work with a wonderful team of administrators across the district as well as with a wonderful teacher base,” he said.
He said an effort to have administrative staff obtain doctoral degrees has also paid off, with about seven having, or soon getting, their degrees.
“This is a great indication of the dedication on their part,” he said.
Mooij said he has always enjoyed any opportunity to be involved with students and that he is very proud of the school district’s Poseidon Early College High School program.
“It offers kids, that would otherwise never have, an opportunity to go to college,” he said.
The Poseidon Early College High School offers qualified students the opportunity to obtain both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree at Brookdale Community College within four years, at no expense to the student.
As far as the future, Mooij said he and his wife, Claudia, will remain active in the community.
“I am involved with several nonprofit organizations and I hope to utilize my skills and continue being a part of these organizations. Claudia and I plan to stay here,” he said.
A career educator, Mooij graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois, in March 1973 at age 21 and has worked in the Neptune school district ever since.
Beginning as a substitute teacher, he was hired in 1975 as a Health and Physical Education teacher, teaching a Marine Science Summer Enrichment course over the summer for several years.
As a teacher, Mooij coached women’s gymnastics, wrestling, cross country, football, and was an athletic trainer, as well as being a founder of the Neptune Swim Tram.
For many seasons, Mooij was a lifeguard in Ocean Grove, first hired when he was 15 and eventually serving as beach captain.
During his long career, Mooij was also the school district’s chair of Physical Education, director of Facilities and Transportation, Assistant Business Administrator/Assistant Board Secretary, and Business Administrator/Board Secretary.
Under his leadership renovations and upgrades were made to all facilities, the Neptune Aquatic Center was created, several district won awards and land was aquired for future use.
During his tenure the Summerfield Elementary School received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the federal Green Building Counci, and the Midtown Community Elementary School received a Platinum LEED.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices
Mooij said he believes his administration sought to create and nurture partnerships that support and further the educational goals of the district by building positive relationships with local, county, state and educational agencies.
Some school district accomplishments include establishing the JumpStart Academies, magnet programs within the high school that provide opportunities for Live-Event Learning in areas like Communication, Education, Engineering, Environmental Science, Law and Criminal Justice, R.O.T.C., Medical Science, and Performing Arts.
“Students explore academic and career opportunities while enrolled in the traditional high school program. Each academy has developed partnerships with private businesses, government resources, and college programs to provide real-world settings for learning experiences,” he said.
Mooij has been an active participant in numerous professional organizations, including the Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey School Development Council at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education, the Monmouth County Superintendents’ Roundtable, and Great Schools of New Jersey (formerly Urban Superintendents).
He was named Monmouth County Superintendent of the Year for 2013-2014.
Mooij said he will continue to support the mission of the Camp Meeting Association as an associate trustee.
He is a former trumpet player with the Ocean Grove Summer Band and the Atlantic Wind Ensemble and continues to enjoy singing bass at church. He is also a member of the E. H. Stokes Fire Company and First Aid Squad in Ocean Grove, having served as squad instructor and chief.
He and his wife will soon celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. They have three adult children who all went through the Neptune school system.