KENILWORTH, NJ — On Kyle Arlington’s first day as Superintendent of Kenilworth Public Schools, a storm dropped a half-foot of snow on the borough.
That day in March 2019 might have been an omen — or maybe it was just an opportunity for the district’s new leader to jump in with crisis management skills that would soon come in handy.
Arlington’s ability to guide the schools through difficult times resulted in his selection as Kenilworth Borough’s Employee of the Year. The honor was presented at the borough’s council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
“I would like to acknowledge Mr. Arlington for the tremendous success he has achieved in keeping our schools running and our children learning,” Mayor Linda Karlovitch said as she presented the award. “You play a crucial role in our community, and I’m grateful to you. Your work ethic and involvement is admirable, and we’re very lucky to have someone as devoted as you are.”
Arlington took a team approach to managing the district’s pandemic response. When schools closed across the state in the spring, Arlington assembled committees focused on technology, scheduling and safety protocols to plan reopening strategies.
Arlington has prioritized clear and regular communication with the school community to help parents, staff and students navigate changes, including short-term closures and quarantines. A weekly superintendent’s update and a COVID-19 dashboard are among the channels used to share information.
“It is incredible how he is able to keep reinventing the wheel,” Karlovitch said. “I don’t think there is any place where policy and procedure has changed as much and as frequently as it has other than in our schools.”
By expanding a focus on social and emotional learning to support students and to help identify those who could use additional services, Kenilworth was well-positioned to meet children’s additional needs during the pandemic. Along with Director of Student Personnel Services Dawn Cuccolo, Arlington has also made social and emotional learning training, such as teacher resiliency and psychological first aid, available to staff.
Always interested in new ways to connect with students, Arlington launched a “Small Community, Big Reads” initiative over the summer. The social-media campaign continues, with teachers and administrators posting videos about their favorite books.
Promoting a love of literacy comes naturally for Arlington, who began his career as an English teacher for the Vernon Township School District. Arlington quickly took on leadership responsibilities, becoming academic chairperson of language arts for that district, then an assistant principal. Positions as the director of humanities and the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, personnel and policy followed.
After serving in Vernon Township, Arlington became assistant superintendent in the Millburn/Short Hills School District. In addition to being Kenilworth’s superintendent of schools, he is an adjunct professor at both Montclair State and Drew universities.
Arlington’s colleagues at the Kenilworth Board of Education have said they believe he’s more than deserving of the Employee of the Year recognition.
“The Kenilworth School District is immensely proud of and grateful for the extraordinary efforts Mr. Arlington has given to his leadership role, especially through this unprecedented time,” said Kenilworth Board of Education President Gregg David.
The board’s vice president, Michelle Panichi, also expressed her appreciation.
“Mr. Arlington is an inspirational leader and has shown his commitment to our community and his dedication to the goal of improving education for our students.”