Jo Ann Magistro Came to the East Brunswick School District in 1971 as a guidance counselor.
Since then, she has worked her way through the district to superintendent and seen, what she says, a highly competitive and motivated community come together to create one of the best school systems in the area.
“In 1971 this was an extraordinary district with high expectations," she said. “In 2012-2013, it is still an extraordinary district. It’s the culture here. There are high expectations.”
Working to meet those expectations while simultaneously evolving to meet current needs has been Magistro’s responsibility since she became superintendent in 2003. But at the end of the year, she will have to worry less about that. In September, Magistro announced to the Board of Education that the 2012-13 school year would be her last.
“I love this job. I’m going to miss it,” she said.
Magistro first came to the district as a guidance counselor after spending four years elsewhere as a teacher. Eight years later she was approached about being the director of guidance. Soon after, she became the high school’s assistant principal.
“People were concerned. It was a big deal seeing a female handle high school discipline,” she said.
But she succeeded in the role and the superintendent at the time eventually asked her to become Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. She later became Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and in 2003 became the district’s superintendent.
During her time in the district, and as she stepped up each rung on the career ladder, Magistro was able to draw on previous experiences to excel at the next level. Take her time and training as a guidance counselor for example. Those skills helped her work with people and engage the school community.
“I had the skills to work with people, and they serve you everywhere,” she said. “The most important thing my counseling skills have shown me is how to manage people.”
Those people, she says, are among the most important ingredients in the district’s success. From aids and teachers to custodians and administrators, Magistro says the district has been blessed with a great staff.
“The staff here has been a superintendent’s dream,” she said.
But equally important, if not more, is the community in which Magistro and that staff works.
“It’s been wonderful to work in a community with parents that are very supportive. We also have an extraordinary board. To them, it’s about the kids. It’s not about the politics. It’s really about the kids. The board has been the way every board should be, supportive.”