Kearny has what you might call a super super…intendent of schools.
That’s because Patricia “Patte” Blood has been selected the New Jersey Association of School Administrators’ 2022 Superintendent of the Year for North Jersey, joining Scott R. Rocco, chief education officer for the Hamilton Township School District, Mercer County, from Central Jersey and Brian B. Brotschul, chief education officer, Delran Township Public Schools, from South Jersey, as the other regional nominees.
Later this year, one of the three will be chosen the superintendent of the year for the entire state.
The three Regional Superintendents of the Year will be introduced to the Garden State and the educational community later this month in an NJASA YouTube video.
The state winner becomes New Jersey’s nominee for National Superintendent of the Year, with that winner to be announced in February 2022.
MORE ABOUT OUR SUPER SUPER
Blood has been an educator for 34 years, and has been at the helm of the Kearny School District since 2014.
Her career, bookended in Kearny, started in the 1977 when she was hired to teach English and performing arts at Kearny High School. After she obtained tenure in 1983, her plan was to step back and go part-time — she and her late husband, Joseph E. Blood were just starting a family.
But, as fate would have it, Jules L. DiSerafino, the long-time principal at Kearny HS, coaxed her into full-time work
“Joe was working on Wall Street at the time,” Blood said. “I was also cheerleading coach, yearbook moderator, so I was juggling full-time teaching with family obligations.”
Ultimately, she, Joe and the family moved to Central Jersey, Howell to be precise, and there, she opened and operated a private dance school. She also spent time on Howell’s Board of Education. In 1997, Cindy Baumgartner, who would later become KHS principal, asked Blood if she’d consider going back to the classroom — she needed someone who could teach advance English and AP courses.
“I accepted,” Blood said.
By then, she had four children, aged 12, 10, 6 and newborn. She went back to the classroom during the day and then ran the dance school at night, all whilst raising her family.
CHANGED BY SEPT. 11, 2001
But then, the calendar turned to Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Joe was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange that fateful day and when he fortunately got home that night, having survived the worst terror attack in the nation’s history, he told his wife something.
“I’m not going to be there much longer,” Blood says her husband said. And in January 2002, he left his job in Manhattan. Blood, then in her 50s already, went back to school and got a master’s degree in educational supervision. She spent five years as an assistant principal in Freehold.
And, eventually she got her certification for superintendent, which turned out to be fortuitous.
In 2010, another former KHS Principal, Frank DiGesere, coaxed Blood to travel north every day to become his director of curriculum. Then, DiGesere retired. We won’t get into the next three years, other than to saw once DiGesere’s replacement left the district, Blood knew it was her time.
She applied and interviewed for the position — she got it — and the rest, as they say, is history.
IN HER OWN WORDS …
We’ll use Blood’s own narrative to describe what her tenure as the Kearny district’s leader have entailed over the last seven-plus years.
“My experience with redistricting in Howell served as a model when I successfully reconfigured Kearny’s schools and opened Kearny’s first middle school,” she said. “Among the highlights of my time as Kearny’s superintendent are major improvements in our district’s literacy achievement, expansion of course offerings at the middle and high school, including more AP offerings and early college enrollment, full-day pre-school for all 4-year-olds, completion of a 1:1 technology initiative that had Kearny well prepared when the pandemic struck, the addition of Project Lead the Way courses … creation of a Visual and Performing Arts Academy with programs in dance, broadcasting and the arts and most notably, the successful restart and completion of a $54 million construction project at Kearny HS that created 18 additional classrooms, a state-of-the-art culinary facility, updated HVAC, among other important upgrades.”
If that’s not a resume worthy of becoming the state’s overall superintendent of the year, we want to know what is.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.