WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield public school district’s first woman superintendent, Dr. Margaret Dolan, will be retiring as of July 1. 

“It has been a great honor to serve the Westfield Public Schools as a principal, assistant superintendent and the district’s first female superintendent,” Dolan said at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. 

Dolan was appointed superintendent of schools in 2007, after having served as assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and programs from 2005 to 2007. She began her career in Westfield as principal of Franklin Elementary School in 1996. 

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Amy Root, the board’s president, said board members are still processing what it will mean to not have Dolan overseeing the schools and what their next steps will be. 

“You are a very steadying influence for all of us,” Root said to Dolan at the meeting. 

Root’s comments were echoed by Brendan Galligan, the board’s vice president, who said Dolan’s “stable leadership has helped the district maintain and persevere.”

Several board members, including Sahar Aziz and Michael Bielen, said they had felt Dolan’s positive influence as parents of children in Westfield schools. 

“I want to thank you for breaking the glass ceiling,” Aziz added. “Hopefully you will not be the only female superintendent going forward.” 

A press release from the district said that during Dolan’s tenure the district continually upgraded and improved security protocols and equipment, transitioned to a standards-based report card, invested in the social and emotional development of its students, encouraged conservation with the installation of solar panels and other measures, supported innovative uses of technology in the classroom and launched a new website.

In a letter of notification to school board members, Dolan said that leading the district through the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging aspect of her tenure, but she feels confident that she is leaving the district “a strong and talented administrative team.”

“It is our great fortune to have parents who value education and who support the district’s educators,” Dolan wrote. “We find hope in the future, as we watch our students’ creativity, thoughtfulness and resiliency.”

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