N.J. Education Dept. taps 2 new assistant commissioners as part of reorganization

TRENTON – The state Board of Education today approved the appointment of two new assistant commissioners – Penny MacCormack and Peter Shulman  – to serve as academic officer and chief talent officer, respectively.

MacCormack will serve as interim chief academic officer until she assumes the position full time in December. Shulman will fill the role of chief talent officer starting Nov. 7.

Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf reorganized the Department of Education earlier this year to concentrate on four divisions – academics, performance and accountability, talent, and innovation. Each of these four divisions will be led by an assistant commissioner. These two latest appointees join Bari Erlichson, who  serves as the Chief Performance Officer.

MacCormack started out as a high school science teacher and was previously named Teacher of the Year. She worked her way up to dean, principal, and assistant superintendent in two Connecticut districts – New Haven and Hartford. Her latest assignment was as the Chief Academic Officer in Hartford, which is an urban district with 22,000 students and 2,100 certified staff in 50 schools.

MacCormack will work with school districts to ensure that they are implementing the Common Core State Standards over the next three years, developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. MacCormack will also guide struggling school districts and help put in place measures to make students college-ready.

“Defining what our students need to know to truly be college and career ready is an essential component of our work, and I cannot think of a better person to lead this effort than Penny,” Cerf said in a statement.

“Penny has a history of school improvement that is focused first and foremost on great instruction, and she will be the perfect person to ensure that the revolutionary new Common Core State Standards move from a plan in Trenton to one that has real impact in classrooms across the state.”

Shulman has experience at both large urban districts and state education departments across the country. He recently led the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education, where he oversaw the teacher and leader effectiveness initiatives that were part of Delaware’s successful bid for a Race to the Top award.

Shulman also served in the School District of Philadelphia and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, where he served as a human resources director. He has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Shulman will be responsible for implementing the department’s teacher effectiveness initiatives. This work will include the new teacher evaluation pilot project under way in 10 districts in preparation for rollout of a new evaluation system statewide, as well as efforts to support educator effectiveness legislation, including tenure reform.

Shulman will also spearhead work with graduate schools of education designed to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and career.

“Peter’s diverse background and experience in human capital at both the state and district level will add tremendous value to our effort to ensure that every student in New Jersey is taught by an outstanding teacher,” Cerf said. “Peter will be solely focused on supporting all of our teachers and school leaders to ensure that we reward outstanding educators and help good teachers become great.”


N.J. Education Dept. taps 2 new assistant commissioners as part of reorganization