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Meet the Superintendent: School is in Session and Arthur Dietz is on the Job

The beginning of the school year also marked the start of a new career for the man in charge of the township’s school system. Arthur Dietz was approved as the new superintendent of the Deptford School District in May.

Dietz had previously worked as the principal at Monongahela Middle School in Sewell since 2012. He has been employed in Deptford Township for more than a decade, including working as the vice principal of the high school.

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The Sun recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dietz, who officially began the superintendent role in July, to talk about the first month of school, his goals and objectives this year, and more.

The Sun: What are the challenges as a first-year superintendent?

Dietz: As a first-year superintendent, it’s just getting to know (everyone). It’s a rather large school district, about 4,300 kids, about 850 employees, and 10 buildings. So the size of the district, getting to know (everyone), and finding out the needs of each building, and making sure we keep the parents, the kids, and everyone involved in the communications, because it’s a very large district. And establishing a goodwill with the town council and the mayor, because it’s important to make sure we’re all going in the same direction for a better school system and a better community.

The Sun: Do you have any specific goals that you’re trying to achieve?

Dietz: We’re trying to come into the 21st century, we’re looking at bringing in Promethean Boards, looking at bringing in up-to-date technology in classrooms. We’re trying to, if not a one-on-one initiative, trying to put a set of Chromebooks in each classroom so teachers have access to them. We’re looking at bringing in Canvas, an online learning system that may mitigate the need, if we work with the state, to come in on snow days. At least we want to have the technology background and have it set up if we get permission to do that. We’re trying to update the technology, the buildings, the heating and cooling systems in the building. Not all of our buildings have air-conditioning so we’re trying to get all of our buildings to have air in them and we want to update some of the boilers and heating systems in the buildings. Our facilities in general need to be updated.

The Sun: It’s obviously September, school opened recently. How have the first few weeks gone?

Dietz: I would say without the bumps with the transportation, because there were some last-minute changes as far as bus routes, every principal I’ve talked to and every building I’ve visited, they’ve said with the exception with the bumps in transportation it was the best opening they’ve had in 10 years.

The Sun: If you could single out one thing that you think Deptford schools need, what would it be?

Dietz: I think the No.1 thing is to increase the morale, with our teachers, faculty, our staff, to increase the morale back where it needs to be. We have a very good school district and the image I think has been tarnished over the years. I think we just need to get our image back to where it belongs. (Editor’s Note: Philadelphia Magazine listed Deptford Township among the top 100 public schools in the Philadelphia-area in September 2012). If you look at the middle school state testing scores, our middle school is No.1 or No. 2 in the county, so our middle school is doing fabulous. We just need to make that pervasive throughout the district.

The Sun: Finish this sentence. The most important aspect of getting a great education is _______.

Dietz: From a student’s perspective?

The Sun: Sure, because when it comes down to it that’s what schools are about, the students. So you can answer it from a student’s perspective.

Dietz: I think from a student’s perspective it’s advocating for yourself, it’s getting involved in activities, it’s allowing yourself to try new things and putting yourself in situations that you’re not necessarily comfortable with in order to grow both academically and holistically. It’s the whole student experience. Make sure you’re involved and energized. It’ll prepare yourself to be a productive member of society down the road, someone who can go out and lead.

Ryan is a veteran journalist of 20 years. He’s worked at the Courier-Post, Philadelphia Daily News, Delaware County Daily Times, primarily as a sportswriter, and is currently a sports editor at Newspaper Media Group and an adjunct journalism instructor at Rowan University.

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