HomeShamong NewsShamong’s interim superintendent is a ‘five star general’

Shamong’s interim superintendent is a ‘five star general’

The United Way of Burlington County has taken notice of Dr. Dolores Szymanski, interim superintendent of the Shamong School District. It is impossible to look past her kind, helping heart — or her long resume of volunteer work.

The organization recently named Szymanski its Volunteer of the Year after seven years of service. This is also her 29th year in the county.

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“Initially, I was the campaign cabinet chair for the education campaign for the county,” she said. That was my role — to coordinate with all 42 districts at the time in Burlington County. I did that for several years and was fairly successful.”

With an understanding of the area and populace, she was tapped to become the campaign chairwoman, allowing her to coordinate all divisions.

“I did that for two years,” she said. “We raised $4.6 million in each of the two years.”

That amount exceeded the original goal each year, even in the tough economic climate.

“We were just so ecstatic that we were able to do that,” she said. “People still understood that there was a need and were very generous.”

Major monetary gifts come from corporations and individual donors. A good portion of funds raised through United Way come from workplace giving, she explained.

Szymanski is passionate about the environment.

In particular, Barnegat Bay in Ocean County.

“Barnegat Bay is just so beautiful,” she said. “You hate to see something that is such an important part of our region die. That’s basically what’s happening there.”

This is occurring through development in the county, dumping, and the nuclear power plant, she said.

“The health of that bay is really a symbol of the health of the environment,” she said. “That’s why I’m very passionate about the bay. It’s a great place to watch sunsets at night.”

After her two years of service as campaign chair, Szymanski thought she was done.

“You never get to be really done with United Way,” she said. “Once you volunteer and they sense your passion and your love for what the group does, you’re hooked.”

This past year, she chaired the education impact campaign. Educators throughout the county, private service agencies, county employees, the sheriff and more all gathered to recognize the needs of the county to properly funnel education funding.

“It’s very good and exciting work and I continue to sit on the board of directors,” she said.

The United Way of Burlington County isn’t the only organization that holds her interest.

She is also treasurer of the Temple University Alumni Association, a volunteer mentor at Temple University, the South Jersey chairwoman for the Wilmington University Alumni Association, and she sits on the Academic Affairs Committee at Temple University.

She is vice president of the board of trustees for the Foundation for Educational Administration, which is the professional development arm of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and she is a board member for the Burlington County Advisory Committee on Women.

Szymanski has what she calls a “mini job” as a field adviser for a cohort of doctoral students at Wilmington University as well.

Must be hard to juggle all these responsibilities, no?

“It’s nothing,” she said. “I don’t think about what I do. I just do it. I don’t put a time on things.”

Her seeds for volunteerism were planted early, while in an all girls catholic high school. The students wore blue uniforms and each time they were involved in an activity, they received a pin, medal or ribbon, to the point that they could look like “five-star generals.”

That desire to rack in opportunities transcended into her adult life.

“I believe that service is an important part of being a member of a community,” she said. “We are members of a bigger community than just where we live. I truly believe that it’s my responsibility as a citizen to help to ensure the health and welfare of the community as a whole.”

Szymanski retired in June 2011 after 37 years in education, but didn’t put her suits too far back in her closet.

She soon after began her role as interim superintendent for Shamong Schools for the 2011–12 school year. Her contract runs through June 30, 2013.

“I just felt that there was a lot more that I wanted to do and that I could do,” she explained.

She was familiar with the Lenape region from her roles as assistant superintendent and superintendent for Burlington County Institute of Technology, jobs she held for 28 years.

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