HILLSIDE, NJ — Hillside has welcomed Antoine L. Gayles as the new superintendent of Hillside Public Schools. Gayles takes over for former Acting Superintendent Zende Clark, who ended her interim position on July 1.
Gayles, a Washington, D.C. native, first got involved in education while he was still working in finance on Wall Street. As part of a company-sponsored mentoring program, Gayles participated in the Newark-based READY Foundation, and it was this experience that marked a significant turning point in his career.
In 1993, Gayles joined the staff of the READY Foundation as a program coordinator and, two years later, joined Communities in Schools as the Project Director for the Bobby Brooks Academy at Harold Wilson Middle School.
Gayles credits his experiences in these community-based organizations as inspiring him to pursue a career at the State Department of Education as an education specialist. There, Gayles worked with Abbott school districts to develop their Whole School Reform plans and zero-based budgets.
Gayles, who earned his Doctorate in Education Administration and Supervision from Seton Hall University, has served as assistant principal and principal of several schools in Newark, Orange and Piscataway. While in Piscataway, Gayles served as the high school master scheduler, testing coordinator, Industrial Arts Department chair, and president of the Piscataway Principal and Supervisors Association.
Gayles told LocalSource that one of his first orders of business as Hillside’s superintendent is to assess the needs of the district. “Initially, it will be very important to do a thorough assessment of where we are,” said Gayles.
“Ultimately, we want to have world-class facilities for our students, a rigorous program, and we want to instill in our students to being lifelong learners, to become that proverbial learner.”
Gayles said that he sees the classroom as a laboratory. “Our classrooms are laboratories and our students are scientists. “We want our kids to fully engage with what’s around them and to fully integrate that into our lives,” said Gayles.
Gayles expressed confidence in his colleagues in the district. “I can say with confidence that we have folks that can embrace that vision and are capable of seeing it through,” Gayles said.
As far as addressing some of the challenges in the district, Gayles said that it is still early days. “It’s still early in my tenure,” said Gayles. “Time will tell. I’m just starting my honeymoon. But I am talking to central office staff and maybe some concerns or patterns will emerge. The board is very active, so we’ll be peeling back the layers over the next few months.”
Superintendent Office Manager Pat Session told LocalSource that she welcomes Gayles’ arrival. “Dr. Gayles is the 7th superintendent that I will support,” said Session. “The office staff welcomes his arrival and we will work diligently in helping him realize his vision for the staff and the students of the Hillside educational community.”
Gayles is an active member of the Mount Olive Board of Education, the Morris County School Board’s Legislative Committee, has served on the NJIT Real World Challenges Program Parent Advisory Board, and served as an adjunct professor at Centenary University.
Gayles said that he is grateful for the warm reception he has received. “It is my honor to become a part of this great community,” he said. “As I transition into the Hillside School District, I look forward to the opportunity to humbly serve in the community.”
Gayles currently resides in Mount Olive with his family.