School: Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District
School District: Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District
City, State: Bridgewater, New Jersey
About the Nominee: Russell M. Lazovick is truly a LifeChanger in the field of education. From his former roles as teacher, supervisor and assistant superintendent, to his current role of superintendent, he has devoted each day, each decision to doing what is best for students. Mr. Lazovick has a proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students. He works each day to positively add to the development of his district’s atmosphere. Mr. Lazovick is a leader in his activities at the school and district level, including his interactions with individual students, staff members, parents or guardians, community members and Board of Education members. He has a proven record of excellent performance at the professional level, and he is committed to producing a nurturing environment for all. He does all of this while adhering to high moral and ethical standards. Mr. Lazovick works each day to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students. Throughout his career, he has worked in districts where students have different and varied needs. He has taken on every position to support the specific students in his charge. He differentiates his work with students, staff members, and parents or guardians to best meet the needs of the population for whom he is responsible. Mr. Lazovick takes a two-prong approach to making a beneficial difference in the lives of his students. First, he accomplishes this through contact and conversations with students. Mr. Lazovick is known to sit with students to gather their thoughts and opinions on different topics and issues. In the event a student misbehaves in a manner that may impact the district as a whole, he will sit with the student to discuss their choices and how those choices may look different in future situations. Mr. Lazovick visits classrooms to talk to students about learning. Second, he works with the adults in his school district to help make a beneficial difference in the lives of students. He leads by example, often taking time, even as a district-level administrator, to provide instruction in classrooms. He plans for and implements professional development for staff to help support and enhance instructional practices in order to provide students with every opportunity. Mr. Lazovick is visible throughout the school district on a regular basis, in classrooms and at school functions, supporting students in their academics as well as their extracurricular activities.
Mr. Lazovick positively adds to the development of his district’s atmosphere. He does this by being visible throughout the schools in a variety of ways. Mr. Lazovick is literally everywhere; he visits classrooms, extracurricular activities, sporting events, concerts, fine and performing arts shows and productions, parent-teacher functions, and more. Even beyond the school day, he attends events that honor staff members. Also, Mr. Lazovick believes in bringing staff together at the beginning of each school year to start the year off as a team. Each year, during the first week of school, he visits every classroom in the district to welcome students and staff. He also visits every building in his charge and tries to get into every classroom before major breaks or holidays in the school year. He visits buildings during Teacher Appreciation Week in May, often making PA system announcements in the schools to publicly thank the staff members for their work. Equally as important as being physically visible, Mr. Lazovick works to be everywhere at all times. He sends positive thoughts to staff members by email at pinnacle points in the school year – the opening and closing of the school year, before holidays and breaks, and during Teacher Appreciation Week. He has been known to personally send out emails to all staff at times when something traumatic may have happened in a district. Mr. Lazovick writes a personal note and sends a sympathy card to each known death of a staff member’s loved one. He also sends out letters of recognition for jobs well done including, but not limited to, the teacher of the year, staff members who attain personal achievements such as the completion of advanced degrees, and staff members who have gone above and beyond during district projects. The most recent, and possibly most substantial example of how Mr. Lazovick impacts others can be seen in an email received from a staff member. A staff member forwarded to Mr. Lazovick an email from a parent about how changes in the classroom had positively impacted the parent’s high school-aged child. The staff member described in the email how Mr. Lazovick’s opening remarks at the beginning of the school year allowed the opportunity for her own personal reflection and adjustment of her classroom practices, which then impacted the students. This is one of many examples of how Mr. Lazovick positively develops the school district’s atmosphere each day, impacting students and staff, directly and indirectly.
Mr. Lazovick is a proven leader in his activities at the school and district level, including his interactions with individual students, staff members, parents or guardians, community members and Board of Education members. In his previous district, Mr. Lazovick worked to develop a process to not only create a five-year strategic plan, but to also ensure that the plan was followed by district administrators and staff members to see the five-year goals come to fruition in manageable increments. He worked with a group of almost 60 district and community members, including students, during the initial phases to complete the strategic plan. Following the completion of the plan, Mr. Lazovick guided the work of the administrators and teachers to ensure a successful outcome to the stated goals. Mr. Lazovick is able to envision educational practices as they may unfold in upcoming years. This vision helps him to be successful in his practice, planning for each aspect of an event or opportunity. Mr. Lazovick believes in process. This can be seen through his work with staff members to create practices and procedures for a variety of activities, from interviewing potential candidates, to reviewing curriculum and program, to piloting instructional materials. A prime example of Mr. Lazovick taking on a leadership role is through the evaluation process. The state of New Jersey changed their evaluation system a few years ago. In his true way of being a leader, Mr. Lazovick ran professional development sessions for administrators and teachers, providing information on the use of a framework. He regularly brought teachers and administrators together in partnerships during these sessions to allow them the opportunity to work through the framework and process together prior to its implementation. He also completed the most observations in his district, showing his dedication to teaching and learning, his desire to work directly with staff members, and his commitment to educational leadership. In order to help increase communication, Mr. Lazovick maintains a Superintendent’s Classroom on his school district’s website. He uses this forum to discuss topics both relevant to education in general and specifically to his school district. The Superintendent’s Classroom is a resource for parents and staff members alike. Mr. Lazovick is a true leader in every sense of the word.
Mr. Lazovick has a proven record of excellent performance at the professional level. He belongs or has belonged to a number of professional organizations including, but not limited to, the Association of School Administrators (American and New Jersey) and the New Jersey Network of Superintendents. These professional affiliations have afforded Mr. Lazovick the opportunity to bring resources to his district. One example of this was the ability to host a group of superintendents from throughout the state of New Jersey in his district to complete instructional rounds. The opportunity afforded the staff members and administrators to receive feedback on the problem of practice developed for each building including data collected from classroom visitations. His professional affiliations have also provided Mr. Lazovick the opportunity to participate as a guest speaker in other school districts and organizations in New Jersey. Mr. Lazovick’s professional affiliations have enhanced his work within his districts and helped him to branch out to reach a greater audience in the field of education.
Each and every day, Mr. Lazovick is committed to producing a nurturing environment for all. He takes the time to speak with individuals throughout the schools in his district. Mr. Lazovick believes that no one person is more or less important than another, and he is interested in obtaining feedback from a variety of sources. Whether that source is a student, teacher, staff member, custodian, maintenance worker, bus driver, administrator, parent, community member, Board of Education member, or any host of other individuals whose interactions impact a school district, Mr. Lazovick is interested in hearing their opinions. When one engages in a conversation with Mr. Lazovick, they can be assured that their voice will be heard and acknowledged. Mr. Lazovick makes each individual in which he comes into contact feel as if their ideas and opinions are the most important information he has received, and he genuinely believes it. He takes the information as valuable and uses it to enhance each decision. Mr. Lazovick also uses the committee process previously described to ensure that individuals connected to the school district are heard and valued. He truly creates a nurturing environment for all.
He completes all of this and so much more while adhering to high moral and ethical standards for himself. He holds others to these standards as well. Mr. Lazovick is honest in his approach to each situation. While it is inevitable that, at times, the information Mr. Lazovick needs to share or express may not be positive or comfortable, he always tells the truth in a kind, compassionate manner. Mr. Lazovick does not hide information because he wants to steer away from an unpleasant conversation. He is direct about each situation while participating in the conversation in a supportive manner. Mr. Lazovick is an inspiration to each individual who has the opportunity to work with him. He leads by example and would never ask anyone to do something he would not do first.
Anyone who is privileged enough to work with Mr. Lazovick will quickly realize they have been provided with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Any student who has the good fortune to be in a district where Mr. Lazovick oversees the operations will have the opportunity to receive a solid education. Mr. Lazovick truly puts the needs of others ahead of his own needs. This can be a rare find. While there are many excellent educators, Mr. Lazovick is truly at the top of the list.