ROSELLE, NJ — A well-respected educator and administrator in the Roselle Public School District, Nathan Fisher has played many roles in his lifetime but is now ready to embark on a new one. Possessing three decades of experience in the school system, Fisher is now taking the district’s helm as superintendent of schools.
According to a media release from the district, Fisher has established an impressive educational resume. Previously serving as vice principal and principal of Abraham Clark High School as well as the principal of Leonard V. Moore Middle School, Fisher was most recently principal of the borough’s Kindergarten Success Academy.
“Working for very strong leaders that engaged me in various leadership roles was the greatest teacher,” Fisher said on July 11. “My skill set was honed by numerous principals, directors and superintendents that recognized my potential early on. I recollect challenging traditional programming and sought to engage everyone to think outside the box, or bowl, as I like to say. This was something that the various leaders that I worked under greatly appreciated. It has always been my innate ability to approach situations from a different lens, with an understanding that all children matter. The repercussions of my decision-making had to be concise and intentional. Therefore, through my academic preparation and support of my mentors over the past 30 years, it has and continues to challenge my thinking and force me to establish a rationale for my leadership actions in all the schools in the district.”
What seems like a lifetime ago, Fisher’s career in education began in the Roselle Public School District when he was a substitute teacher back in 1990. Fisher spoke candidly about how things were back then.
“My substitute days obviously go way back, but I recollect how significant it was, my impact on the students that I encountered daily,” Fisher said. “It required, depending on the grade level, that I improvise to build a rapport with the students to get them to not only take advantage of the substitute for the day, but this methodology made it quite easy to foster a greater relationship when I was assigned to return to the respective schools. Ironically, it was during my substitute years that I was encouraged to become a teacher.
“I recollect a scenario where I learned quickly from my decisions,” he continued. “The incident when I surprisingly substituted in a kindergarten class at Washington School, and one student asked to go to the bathroom and I misguidedly said ‘yes.’ This resulted in every student raising their hands to go to the bathroom. Who would have known that 20 years later, I would be a principal of the Kindergarten Success Academy? However, this was a huge learning experience.
“The field of substituting has changed in regards to meeting the academic needs in the absence of the classroom teacher. The emphasis on the social-emotional needs, student engagement, and understanding of today’s safety and HIB protocols is significant for substitutes today. This generation of students is truly different. We are charged in differentiating our practices and interactions with students who challenge the norm. Thus, this warrants that substitutes employ a plethora of instructional strategies when working with our students,” he concluded.
Fisher revealed that it was a long road to get where he is today.
“With three decades as an educator and 22 years as an administrator, the journey to the superintendent seat appeared so close but yet so far,” he said. “I have been vested in the Roselle community from day one. I always imagined being a superintendent somewhere, even when it did not seem attainable in the Roselle schools.”
He said he accomplished his goal through hard work, perseverance and faith.
“While my academic preparations from my BS to EdD degrees were a personal accomplishment, it also ensured that I possessed the credentials necessary to be in the conversation of leading the district as superintendent,” he said. “Thus, staying skilled up for this opportunity was my driving force. This is obvious through my ability to stay current and relevant in every position I served in. Despite the pathway having some detours, I never deterred from the mission.”
Recalling his illustrious career spanning three decades, his role within each school was special in its own unique way.
“Serving in both administrative roles as vice principal and principal were significant to me,” Fisher said of his time at Abraham Clark High School. “My early leadership maturity was developed in high school under the mentorship of Kenneth Holmes, the former high school principal. This is where my skill set was heightened and took shape. There were numerous experiences that were highlights during my tenure in these positions. All those experiences were directly associated with cultivating the learning experiences and opportunities for our students.
“Particularly, the initiatives such as the HSTW, better known as High Schools That Work, that facilitated our career pathways for postsecondary experiences for our students was quite rewarding,” Fisher continued. “Additionally, during my tenure in both these positions, I was charged with establishing studies that offered students industry certifications and college credit while attending ACHS. It was also notable that several graduates received the Gates Millennium Scholarship and students were accepted into the Naval Academy under the administration, to name a few. Other proud moments included being a part of Roselle’s winning tradition where our programs received national recognition for our JROTC Marine Corps, Teen Arts and the numerous state championship wins from our athletic teams.”
At Moore Middle School, Fisher said he most enjoyed collaborating with students.
“As principal, I recall working with our student council members addressing how to improve the student’s learning experiences at LVM,” Fisher said. “This turned out to contribute to greater student programming as a result of recommendations driven by student voice, resulting in increased extracurricular activities.”
He also touted the school’s creation of before- and after-school academic support programming to help at-risk students.
Finally, highlighting his most recent role as principal of the Kindergarten Success Academy, Fisher collectively gave insight into the vast difference between working with high school teens and with much younger children.
“Most high school students are more independent learners and held accountable for their individual learning and actions. This impacts tremendously their transition plans to postsecondary pathways,” Fisher said. “Younger students obviously require a lot more guidance in their learning and building on their ability to self-regulate their behaviors and actions. Therefore, working with the younger children provides an insight to the specificity of building the foundation for our learners, which is essential. This developmental level builds and sets the stage for learners as they progress through the grades, which dictates how we support their individual learning needs, whether that be academic and/or social development needs.”
Throughout his career, according to the media release, Fisher has received numerous professional accolades, including being awarded the Geraldine Dodge Fellowship Grant for Principal Leadership, being awarded Roselle’s NAACP Role Model Award and being named Principal of the Year by the Roselle Chamber of Commerce.
Grateful for his past and now focused on his future, Fisher is transitioning into his new role as superintendent and is focused on the difficult job ahead, specifically COVID-19 and what this coming September may bring.
“We are preparing for the return to Roselle Public Schools as we initiate the Post-Pandemic Plan, RPS P3, which has become my No. 1 priority,” Fisher said. “Ensuring the district’s R.A.P.S., meaning Resources, Accessibility, Personnel and Safety, align to the optimal learning opportunities during these challenging times is the priority. Bridging the learning gap from the spring closure to the reopening in September has necessitated a wraparound approach to ensure that all student needs are met. This will include identifying plans to address the learning loss due to the pandemic.
“We are developing a plan that addresses the academic, social-emotional and wellness of students and staff and general continuity of supports that meets the needs of the entire learning community,” Fisher added. “Considering the safety protocols of the NJDOE, local health officials and the CDC guidelines, I have charged the leadership team to engage all stakeholders in developing the most feasible plan for our Roselle Board of Education members to approve for implementation.”
According to Fisher, preparing for next school year requires considering many moving parts and formulating several plans.
“The various stakeholders are hard at work preparing for various scenarios,” Fisher said. “Our planning process will be comprehensive and through the lenses of RPS staff, students, parents and community members. With all things being considered, there are numerous variables that have been considered. Our focus is the safety and well-being of students and staff first and foremost. My team has been charged with exploring nontraditional and progressive practices for learning in this new normal. Whether we activate our hybrid learning plan or we go fully virtual, our plan is being developed to ensure that all students have equitable access to devices and connectivity to the internet across the borough. These plans will be supported by our instructional frameworks, using our unified learning platform for optimal learning experiences.
“Moreover, there are a series of innovative practices and approaches that we have in store that will be presented at a later date as we further vet out these processes. There is no way to predict how events will unfold,” Fisher continued. “Therefore, my team and I are attempting to anticipate a variety of scenarios and have preempted solutions cued for implementation.”
Fisher also took a moment to reflect upon how he feels as he embarks on this new journey as superintendent.
“First, I am humbled by this appointment,” he said. “I am extremely excited to serve as the new superintendent of schools. I have been privileged to work in various capacities and roles within the Roselle Public School District and I believe I am truly prepared to lead the school district during these turbulent times.
“It will be an arduous journey, but it is well worth it,” he continued. “I am elated that this community has shown continual support to me personally and professionally. Therefore, that support is encouraging and venerable as I embark upon this journey of synergizing and leading the district into a transformational future. That’s what makes it even more exciting.”
According to the media release, Fisher is a proud husband, father of four and grandfather of six. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University, a master’s degree from Kean University and a Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University.