HIGHLANDS – There was praise, tears, shared memories, a video and gifts galore Monday at Henry Hudson Regional School as friends, teachers board members, mayors and local residents bid a formal farewell to Dr. Susan Compton, eight year superintendent of the tri-school districts of Henry Hudson Regional and the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands elementary schools.
Dr. Compton is leaving and has accepted a position at the University of Kentucky.
With more than 100 in attendance at the afternoon luncheon in the school’s all purpose room, many who have worked with the superintendent wanted to share their words of praise and thanks for all she has accomplished as the first superintendent of the three schools in a tri-school district.
Atlantic Highlands Mayor Loretta Gluckstein, who served as Henry Hudson regional board of education president served as well as on the Interview Committee when Dr. Compton was first hired. She conceded she was a bit apprehensive about the doctor fitting “into the fast paced New Jersey lifestyle since she is from Kentucky” but admitted she should have had no concern. “She quickly succeeded in adapting to the local community that encompassed the tri-district while keeping her Kentucky charm. She brough calm and sophistication to our small community.”
Also serving on that committee were Roberta Keelan and Sara Weimer, sisters from the Hawley family of Atlantic Highlands who have become synonymous with education, all of whom were present for Monday’s gala and expressed praise and thanks to Dr. Compton for her years of service.
Keelen, who served more than seven years on both the Atlantic Highlands and the Henry Hudson boards, recalls that she knew from the beginning that Dr. Compton “is the perfect fit for what we needed. She is intuitive, and there is something about her that recognizes what is needed and how to go about ensuring she gets the best for the students.” Keelen said her only regret has been that the superintendent did not always get the support she needed from some board members in both communities, who, she said, tied her hands when she was making thoughtful and necessary recommendations. She noted that Dr. Compton “always wanted to put Henry Hudson and the district in the forefront to show how great the district is, and the high quality of education that is provided here. She led that high standard and she was successful in letting everyone know the high quality of the district.”
Sara Weimer concurred, and said through her years on the school board she always found Dr. Compton to be “excellent, competent, compassionate when she had to be, stern when that was necessary. The students benefitted from her wisdom and she helped all three districts grow into the outstanding education that is offered today.” Like Keelan, Weimer also lamented that some disagreements with the superintendent prevented her from achieving all she had in mind.
Sarah Chiles who was an Atlantic Highlands representative on the Henry Hudson board and helped start the planning process for the tri-district, also served on the select committee. In praising Dr. Compton’s dedication to her work, her students and her standard of perfection, she recalled how the superintendent would sleep in her office in snowstorms to ensure she would be able to be there when needed. “She got into the minutiae and was involved in every aspect of education, the students and the community,” she said.
Deborah Appello, one of the newest members on the current board member, added “as a resident, school board member and lifelong educator, I sincerely respect the job Dr. Susan Compton has done as the instructional leader of our tri-district. She has been a tremendous presence in all three school buildings and her dedication and commitment to our community has been solidified through her attendance at many functions during and outside the regular school day.” Appello added “She is truly a southern belle! During the 18 months I have served on the board, I found her to be candid, kind and a champion for student achievement. She will sincerely be missed.”
Among others there to wish Dr. Compton well in her new endeavors were Highlands Mayor Carolyn Broullon and Police Chief Rob Burton, as well as parents of children who have attended one of the schools during Dr. Compton’s tenure.
Gracious and humble in accepting all the praise,Dr. Compton “took charge” and called all the present and past board members to share a photo with her. She note she has been 21 years in her profession, the first five as an assistant superintendent, and was employed as a teacher prior to that. In a lighthearted manner, she highlighted some of what this Kentucky born professional learned during her tenure in New Jersey, but said she would never be saying “you guys..” She praised all the boards, administrators and faculty with whom she has worked, and described her career to date as “a wonderful journey.” Declining personal responsibility, Dr. Compton said all the accomplishments were the result of a team working together, adding “the support of our three boards along with board chairs has been outstanding Our principals, Ms Kingsmore, Mr. Layton, and Mrs. Skibinski have been wonderful particularly during this pandemic, together with business administrators, Janet Sherlock and Chris Mullins, along with Sam Angona, the special services supervisor. My former Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Christina Egan was wonderful but has been good since February to accept the superintendent's position in West Long Branch. In the past, I am very grateful to have worked with former principal, Janet Walling, who was at AHES for 33 years. Dan Loughran was another one of my former supervisors of instruction and is now an assistant superintendent at the Franklin School District.”
“Every chapter starts and ends,” she reminded the gathering, filled with emotion and she said a tearful goodbye to all who have enhanced her life during the past eight years.