Neptune School Superintendent David A. Mooij died on Sunday, just a little more than a week from his official retirement date from the job he had held for 10 years. His official retirement date was July 1.
“The Neptune Township Board of Education and the dedicated staff members of the school system pay tribute to Superintendent of Schools David A. Mooij. During his remarkable 40-year tenure as a teacher, coach, supervisor, instructional leader, business administrator and school superintendent, he exemplified a life well-served on behalf of the children of Neptune.
“We extend the sympathies of the school district and township to his wonderful family and recognize the outstanding contributions of a true professional educator,” said school board President Jason A. Jones in a prepared statement.
Jones said he is requesting that all flags in Neptune be flown at half-mast this week as the township mourns Mooij’s passing.
“Our hearts are heavy as a Board of Education and a community of learners. But we find solace in the knowledge that Mr. Mooij led a life dedicated to helping others, building on tradition, and making new paths where none are laid. Our Superintendent was a humble man who greatly impacted this district in ways many people will never know,” Jones said.
Township Committeeman Randy Bishop said he and Mooij developed a friendship and working relationship over the years, saying that Mooij became the superintendent around the same time Bishop was elected to the governing body.
“We worked on a number of projects together over the years. Not only has Neptune lost a great educator and advocate for children and for the entire township, but I have lost a great friend and confidant. His legacy will be felt long beyond the years of his life,” he said.
And the timing of Mooij’s death contains some irony, Bishop said.
“To die on Father’s Day is ironic but also somewhat appropriate. Dave was truly like a father to so many children in the school system and knew many of them by name. And also to die on the first day of summer, which he loved especially being a former lifeguard, is also ironic but quite appropriate,” he said.
In 2014, the school board approved Mooij’s retirement, who had served as schools superintendent since January, 2005.
His replacement, Tami Crader, who is leaving her job as superintendent for the Warren Township K-8 school district, will begin her new job July 1.
Mooij, who was 63, recently said he is very proud of various educational initiatives completed under his tenure, including increasing academic standards and student test scores.
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 acquired 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
Some school district accomplishments under Mooij’s tenure 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.