MONROE, CT — Joseph Kobza, who has led Monroe’s public school district since January, can now remove the word “acting” from his job title. Board of Education members unanimously agreed to install Kobza as the town’s new superintendent of schools at their meeting Monday night.
Jack Ceccolini, a longtime administrator in the district who has been serving as assistant superintendent, and Jockey Hollow Middle School and STEM Academy Principal Michael Crowley also had “acting” removed from their titles.
“I want to, first of all, thank you,” Kobza said. “I take tremendous pride in this district and I take my responsibilities very seriously. I’m really happy to work in a district with so many dedicated professionals, administrators, teachers, paras, secretaries, custodians, unaffiliated. It’s a great place to work.”
Kobza is a Monroe native, who starred on the Masuk Panthers football team before graduating in the Class of 1990. He has worked for the school district for over 20 years, having served as principal of Masuk High School, before being promoted to assistant superintendent of schools. In town, Kobza coaches youth football.
Since being appointed acting superintendent, he worked with staff to come up with online curriculum when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close their buildings last March, worked with town officials and fellow educators to pass a budget, then to start this year with a hybrid learning model.
“We have a lot of challenges facing us right now, but we’re gonna keep plugging along,” Kobza said. “That’s what we’ve been doing. We’re gonna get through this. We’ll get to the other end at some point.”
When Chairwoman Donna Lane announced Kobza will be appointed as the permanent superintendent, Jerry Stevens, a board member, said, “smart move.”
“Yes, very,” Lane replied.
David Ferris, a board member, praised Kobza and Ceccolini.
“You’ve both stepped up. You’ve earned this,” Ferris said. “You’re both humble. You lead by example. I don’t think people know this, but you’re both on last year’s salaries and you both also took three furlough days, so that’s leadership by example and we appreciate that.”
“Joe your charge from this board is to run the district,” Ferris continued. “You’re the superintendent, the CEO, you’re the general. Run it without hesitation or apology. We have your back.”
Ceccolini and Crowley step up
Kobza joined board members in congratulating Ceccolini, who left his post as Jockey Hollow principal to assist him, and Crowley, who left his position as an instructional leader of English/language arts to become principal of the middle school.
Kobza recalled how Ceccolini came to him last year, offering any help he could, “doing double duty” by working at Central Office and as Jockey Hollow principal.
“It just turned into a really logical fit for Jack to move up with the experience he’s had in the district at all three levels, in his relationships with staff and just knowing the system,” Kobza said. “I am completely indebted to the man. I always will be.”
Of Crowley, he said, “I’ve had the utmost respect for Mike as an educational leader in this district since day one. Mike is well rounded in all things that are good for kids. I know he was at Jockey Hollow as an instructional leader, but as the building principal right now, he is just doing some great things in the midst of some really adverse times.”
“Thank you for everything Jack and Mike — everybody, thank you,” Ferris said.
“A long time coming,” Lane said. “We’re grateful to have the three of you.”