Dr. Jack Zamary: Familiar face takes his place

What was announced months ago has finally happened: the Monroe school district has a new top administrator.

Dr. Jack Zamary

July 1 was a significant day of change for the public school system, with the retirement of the interim superintendent and longtime district staple, John Battista, and the ascension of Dr. Jack Zamary to superintendent and Joseph Kobza, from longtime Masuk High principal to assistant superintendent, replacing Zamary.

“This is humbling and exciting,” said Zamary, now seated in the office that Battista held this past year. “It is humbling that everyone here has invested their trust and faith in me in leading this district.”

When Battista agreed to assume the superintendent role from Jim Agostine last year, he informed the Board of Education at that time that this would be on an interim basis, because of his stated desire to retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

With that in mind, Battista and Zamary worked hand-in-hand on everything, from snow days to district goals and objectives. And this close collaboration — and true friendship — aided in Zamary’s preparation for assuming the top role, for which he was tapped late last year.

“This is a district unlike any other,” said Zamary. “It is a wonderful place with excellent staff, amazing kids. Great things happen here. The sense of community is outstanding, and our parents are incredibly invested. All together this makes this a great place to work. I am excited about the opportunity to lead this place, and I look forward to the years ahead.”

This is just the latest step for Zamary, who was the district’s director of IT and operations before being named assistant superintendent last year. Zamary earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Southern Connecticut State University and both his bachelor of science degree in music education and master’s in music degree from the University of Connecticut.

Zamary, a Newtown resident, came to the Monroe school district in 2012 from Middlebury Elementary School, where he was principal for 10 years. Prior to that post, Zamary was director of fine arts at Pomperaug Regional School District 15 from 1992 to 1998; band director at Newtown High School from 1992 to 1998; and band director at Danbury High School from 1988 to 1992.

“Last year, John and I shared a lot of the responsibilities, which made the transition into this summer that much easier,” said Zamary. “I was exposed to every facet of the job. I also spent the previous five years working in the central office, so I developed a good working relationship with teachers and staff.”

Zamary called Battista “a great colleague and friend.”

“I am going to miss having him in the office,” said Zamary, “but it is great having Joe (Kobza) as my next partner in this work. Joe and I have worked together the last six seven years, so we are not starting from scratch. I have been fortunate that this has been a pretty smooth process, a smooth transition into the position.”

Zamary said, for parents and teachers, this transition will be seamless, being that the school community has come to know him so well over the years.

“I’m walking into the superintendent’s job knowing the organization, and they know me,” said Zamary. “I’m not having to take time to understand the culture of organization. The parents, staff and community, they already know me and my working style. It makes it easier to know they can contact someone they are familiar with. This will help keep the momentum going within the organization.”

Zamary said he sees the role of superintendent as someone who needs to tap into strengths of the organization, empowering leaders — administrators and teachers.

“We have had the same vision, from Jim Agostine to John (Battista) to myself. There is a continuity in the work that we’re doing. Our job is to keep building on the successes of this organization, and this is a very strong and well respected organization, so we have lots of successes to build on.”

Zamary truly began his effort earlier this year with his involvement in helping develop the 2018-21 Board of Education goals. These goals focus on four areas — creating a “learning culture” district-wide, covering both students and educators; learning supports, or how to support and address specific needs; resources and support; and community building.

“I want to work with all stakeholders to shape a vision,” said Zamary, adding that his role is to engage with the entire community to determine the “best direction of learning for the people of Monroe.”

And Zamary said there are busy days ahead, as he and Kobza try to enjoy some vacation time while also focusing on examining student outcomes from the past year — looking at everything, from students’ writing to science labs — all with an eye toward improving curriculum and teacher training.

“We need to take stock of where we are,” said Zamary, “and make a plan of what we need to do to improve.”


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