It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Timothy Purnell, EdD, who will become AMS executive director on August 1, 2017. Tim will be taking the reins from our current and much beloved executive director, Richard Ungerer, upon Rich’s retirement from AMS this summer.
An inspirational leader, strategic planner, and educator, Tim is the current superintendent for Somerville Public Schools, NJ, for which he has oversight of a $44 million dollar budget as well as the educational services, stakeholder communications, and personnel management for the district’s schools. In addition, as a member of the NJ State Board of Examiners, he is deeply involved in matters relating to teacher certification.
Tim is also part-time faculty at Montclair State, Farleigh Dickinson, and Georgian Court Universities. He has also served as a school principal, vice principal, and science teacher. He and his team designed and launched a non-traditional high school with a focus on reaching academically at-risk students and students that were disenfranchised with the traditional high school educational experience. They also designed and launched a Medical Sciences Academy (in collaboration with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health), an Associate’s Degree Academy, and a Public Relations Academy. His district is trauma-informed and offers students their own pathways to learning through a new pilot approach, “The Blank Canvas.” He and his team also designed and launched an online best-practice repository through a private video channel.
Tim’s honors are numerous. He was one of just 100 educators selected to attend President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative at the White House and was a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation School Leadership Award (for studying public education in Italy). Named a 2016 Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents (NASS), Tim also received the New Jersey Superintendent of the Year Award, the (NJ) Governor’s Teaching Recognition Award, and the Weston Teaching in Excellence Award—among many others.
“Warm, dynamic, and engaging” are 3 adjectives that quickly come to mind when I evoke Tim. His passion to make the world a better place has been palpable in every conversation that I and others who work with me have had with him—as well as his belief that children have a voice in their own educational journey and his conviction that collaboration and strategic communications are critical components of transformation and advancement.
While Tim’s educational experiences span the range from private to public institutions, he understands that historically our members are largely from private schools and that our work in public schools has just begun. His insights into the workings of public education, state departments of education, and the U.S. Department of Education will provide him with the resources and knowledge to find unique and creative ways to help advance Montessori education in all sectors nationwide.
He is enthusiastic about Montessori education, an overview of which he includes in his university education courses, and looks forward to pursuing Montessori training in the near future at one or more of our affiliated teacher education programs, and visiting many of our member schools.
All stakeholder groups involved in the ED search were unanimous in their choice of Tim. For guiding us in the process, I extend deep gratitude to the Triangle/Heads Up Educational Consulting search team, as well as to the AMS Search and Search Advisory Committees and Board of Directors. Thank you, as well, to the AMS staff and to those of you who participated in our focus groups at our 2016 Annual Conference and helped us to understand that what you are seeking in our next executive director is an inspirational and innovative leader with the skills and dynamism to guide teachers to belong to and remain passionate about our organization, and to lead us to the next level of work of AMS and the Montessori Movement. We are confident that we have found these qualities and avidity—and more—in Tim Purnell.
We look forward to welcoming Tim as executive director this summer and having him guide us in our work.
With respect for our past, optimism for our future, and gratitude for your support of AMS,
Joyce S. Pickering
President of the Board of Directors
American Montessori Society
P.S. For more information about Dr. Timothy Purnell, who will become AMS executive director on August 1, I invite you to read the following:
Timothy Purnell’s LinkedIn page
Timothy Purnell’s Educational Philosophy