As His Last Day in Madison Schools Gets Closer, Superintendent Reflects On Achievements

By Ainsley Layland

Madison School District Superintendent Michael Rossi is resigning and will begin working in his new role as Superintendent of Schools in Sussex County on Dec. 1.

“For the past 12 years I’ve been superintendent – it just came about as a natural progression of the path I was on,” Rossi said. “I enjoy being able to work with everyone; you’re interacting with all the touch points of the learning community – parents, students, teaching staff, principals. I really enjoy the variety of people I interact with on a regular basis.”

A native of Hackettstown, Rossi first began his career in education teaching at Randolph High School. He later worked as principal and superintendent before coming to Madison in 2011.

“I would consider my greatest achievement here in Madison just the fact that we were able to continue to thrive in an era of unprecedented change and reform,” he said. “When I came to Madison it was right on the heel of the big recession in 2008. I came right at the tail end of that. In that period of time came enormous changes to the teacher evaluation process, common core was ushered in along with a whole new testing situation. We are also in the process of putting together a multi-million dollar renovation project.”

Among his other achievements, Rossi started a kindergarten program his first year as superintendent in Madison and has seen it flourish during his time there.

“The special memories I have of my time here happened when I saw people grow in their positions,” Rossi said. “We’ve seen a lot of individuals teaching in the program move on to full-time teaching positions. It’s a wonderful thing to have that become so successful and have them move on to do great things.

“The people and the friendships I’ve made. You miss the comradery, the professional relationships and interactions. It’s the individuals you grow fond of as you go through struggles and challenges because that’s what brings you close together.

His new position in Sussex County comes with a much shorter commute, which Rossi said was one of his reasons for taking the position.

“In my years at Madison I’ve accomplished my mission so now this is an opportunity for me to be closer to home,” he explains. “It makes being a part of the fabric of the community in which you serve much easier to only have a 30-minute commute. There are a lot of similarities between Madison and Sparta. I’m going to be able to leverage on my experience here to become a contributing member of the Sparta learning community.”

Rossi discovered his interest in education and his potential as a leader in the early years of his career.

“I spent many years teaching and coaching in middle school and high school and eventually I taught as a professor in college. I also coached both men and women’s basketball. As time went on I became more and more interested in leadership roles. Overall, I’m excited about being able to become a part of what is already a very fine school system in Sparta and hopefully lending a hand toward making it even greater.”

Rossi will succeed Sparta Superintendent Dennis Tobin, who will retire on Nov. 30.

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