Michael Kuchar, Ph.D. served as superintendent of the Bergenfield School District in Bergenfield, N.J. for more than a decade and is currently president of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
Dr. Kuchar has been involved with Middle States since the 1990s and has participated in over 15 school accreditation visits. A Middle States Commissioner for the past six years, Dr. Kuchar discusses his career path from seminarian to superintendent, his love of college basketball, and his lifelong hero. Hint: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Q. How did you choose a career in education?
A. My first career choice was ministry, and I spent two years at a seminary of the Archdiocese of Newark. I changed career paths and began teaching theology at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. From there, I was encouraged to go into guidance, so I spent my early years teaching at Cardinal Hayes and attending graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University, where I received two master’s degrees in counseling psychology. I then became a guidance counselor at Fordham Prep School and continued with my Ph.D. in language, learning and literacy at Fordham University.
Q. What do you consider one of the main benefits of Middle States accreditation?
A. I believe so strongly in the benefit of the self-study process and in the protocols Middle States provides to help schools and school systems put a strong strategic plan in place. The development of a system-wide accreditation protocol has made the Middle States accreditation process one of the best value-added activities a school system can undertake.
Q. Who inspires you and why?
A. My lifelong hero is Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame. He exemplifies what every educator should be like: child-centered, even-tempered and appreciative of the uniqueness of every individual.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
A. I do work a lot and have been teaching at the college level for over 12 years, while I have been a full-time administrator. Currently, I am mentoring 20 doctoral students on their dissertation. I find great joy and satisfaction doing this. I feel strongly that it adds value to the field of education. My non-work time I spend with family, my wife of 30 years and four children, ages 27 to 17.
Q. What is one thing that might surprise people about you?
A. I am a college basketball fanatic. I have been a longtime Seton Hall season ticket holder, have gone to the Big East tournament since 1986 and have been to three Final Four tournaments.