On August 1st, 2022, Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools (SCVTS) welcomed Mr. Robert Presuto as the new Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Presuto, who worked previously as the superintendent at Boonton Public Schools, has over a decade’s worth of experience as a superintendent and 29 years in education.
Mr. Presuto also brings to SCVTS his educational experiences from around the world. “I've had the opportunity to visit and be invited into school systems in several countries to learn more about them,” stated Presuto. “To date, I've been to schools in Japan, China, and England. Stateside, I've visited many school systems, the most memorable of which was in Hawaii. It was a native Hawaiian school on the island of Molokai which was just incredible!” “Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with the two main pillars of my educational philosophy,” explained Presuto. First, “‘The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.’ If teachers let their students know that they both respect and care about them, they have surmounted perhaps the greatest hindrance to becoming a transformative educator.”
Secondly, “‘Knowledge exists to be imparted.’ There is so much to learn in the world, and so many sources we can learn from. As teachers, our mission is to impart whatever skills and/or knowledge we have to our students in the hopes that they will one day surpass that which we've taught them.” Discussing the importance of vocational education, Presuto stated, “I am a big believer in students becoming multi-faceted learners, and multi-skilled members of society. Vocational programs are valuable in terms of career readiness, learning to work with one's hands, and developing problem-solving skills. CTE programs also provide an outlet for creativity and foster ingenuity. The cost of a two or four-year college program has become astronomically expensive for many, if not most families. If you can learn a trade or highly marketable skill right out of high school, for some young people this is a way to get a head start on the post-high school journey of joining the workforce and saving for one's dreams and aspirations.”
Presuto reflected on his first year at SCVTS by stating, “My first year in the district has been both truly amazing, as well as a learning curve in terms of understanding the purely vocational and county-operated operations of the district. The staff and students could not have been more accommodating and patient as I 'learned the ropes' in my first year at SCVTS. Despite many facets of the central administration operations being the same, as they were in my previous district, the CTE programs are what set the county vocational school districts apart. From the industry-seasoned CTE teachers to the incredible facility and equipment we have, it's very different from a traditional college preparatory high school environment.”
Presuto went on to add, “Coming from 10 years of local K-12 district leadership experiences, there are certain aspects of the Vo-Tech which are unique such as how we receive/request funding, and the application and acceptance process of students. We work with the Board of School Estimate to establish what the annual budget funding will be, as opposed to the school board itself, or in the case of extraordinary funding situations, the local community taxpayers. The application process for students is something I had not had in any previous school district, except for academy programs within a comprehensive high school. At SCVTS, we have entrance criteria for the Academy for Health & Medical Sciences, the main school, and our TOPS alternative program. Thus, I learned how these processes work both here and at the other county vo-techs. As such, we are implementing changes for the upcoming school year, which will be to move up both our Open House and application/acceptance processes by several months to let potential SCVTS students know earlier than we previously did, whether or not they will be accepted to our school.”
A resident of Nutley, Presuto enjoys traveling, genealogy, tinkering in his garage, and day-trekking on his gravel bike. As a way to share his passion for cycling, Mr. Presuto has been a volunteer mountain bike coach for six years with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. “I had never officially coached a sport, and my experience with student-athletes has been awesome and rewarding beyond my expectations,” said Presuto. Additionally, Presuto volunteers at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Presuto remarked, “It allows me to support an organization I care about and experience some incredible performances as well.”
Robert Presuto, Superintendent, poses for a photo next to the Somerset County Vocational & Technical Schools sign.