A Conversation with Dr. Ronald Valenti
Dr. Ronald Valenti stepped into his role as Eastchester's Interim Superintendent on July 1, 2022. Valenti has 31 years of experience as a superintendent of schools—including a combined 25 years in the Harrison and Blind Brook school districts. More recently, he oversaw upgrades to the K-12 curriculums in the Greenburgh and Westbury (Long Island) school districts.
After beginning his career as a social studies teacher, Valenti said that he gravitated towards school administration as a way to reach more than the students in his classes.
“Even as a youngster, I always enjoyed school, and I think that’s where this begins,” he says. “But I saw that as much as I enjoyed the classroom, I said there’s a bigger picture out there in terms of being a principal and ultimately a superintendent. I wanted to impact larger organizations rather than just a particular classroom because I felt I could have a greater impact on students.”
Describing his approach to education as analytical and data-driven in principle, Valenti said that he has spent his career trying to move school districts away from setting vague goals in favor of setting objectives with quantifiable measures of success.
“You can say ‘every child should, read or every child should be an avid reader’ which is an aspirational statement; it’s very difficult to measure,” said Valenti. “But what I am able to measure is that Johnny, a third grader, is reading at the 3.5 grade level. That tells me something about Johnny in that grade level. I want to get that specific and I want to force people to think
After taking stock of the needs of the school district and forming a ‘to-do’ list that he will share with the school board and community this summer, Valenti said he will begin tackling projects ranging from day-to-day improvements to far-reaching initiatives. He hopes that his transparency and work ethic will inspire those around him in the coming months.
“It’s every conversation you have, it’s every meeting you conduct, it’s every speech you give; I think I’ve made it very clear that I’m not here as a placeholder,” he said. “You’re going to see programs being proposed, whether we do them or not is going be the decision of a community, but you have to be very clear about what your positions are. I think if you do that, it has a
multiplier effect and it brings the best out in people."
“The superintendency of today is much more difficult than it was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago,” he added. "The grounds have shifted and the issues have shifted, and you really have to be enormously nimble and enormously self-confident in your ability to bring constructive change and better student outcomes.”
Ultimately, Valenti said, the job of educators is to provide students with the tools they will need to succeed in life. And although the landscape of 21st century jobs may be uncertain, Valenti said that Eastchester needs to prepare its students to forge their own paths in emerging fields.
“We’re preparing a generation of students who are not necessarily going to be applying for jobs that have even been yet developed, so we ought to be creating a generation of students who will themselves be creating the jobs of the future,” he said. “So with all that’s going on in terms of robotics and movements in fields in terms of STEM, science and technology, there’s a whole new universe of occupational and career opportunities in this young 21st century. Most importantly, we must guide our youngsters to be creators of their future, to write their own story.”