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Brick Schools Chief Named Ocean County Superintendent of the Year

Thomas G. Farrell, Ed. D. (Credit: Brick Township Schools)

Thomas G. Farrell, Ed. D. (Credit: Brick Township Schools)

Brick schools Superintendent Thomas Farrell, known for his passionate advocacy for programs to benefit students, as well as his extensive research into the state’s funding formula that has decimated the Brick district in recent years, has been named Ocean County’s Superintendent of the Year.

Farrell, who holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership, is currently in his fifth year as superintendent of Brick schools and his 12th year as a superintendent in New Jersey. He worked in Monmouth County before being appointed the leader of his hometown district.

Farrell has dutifully dealt with multiple crises from – almost literally – the day he started work in Brick in March 2020. Just days into his tenure, schools began closing and switching to remote learning to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Brick school system was in the midst of state de-funding under a controversial plan that has led to staffing and programming cuts district-wide.

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“Over the past five years, Dr. Farrell has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication while serving the Brick Township Schools,” said Vanessa Pereira, President of the Ocean County Association of School Administrators. “Despite navigating through several challenging budget cycles, Dr. Farrell’s unwavering commitment to prioritizing students’ needs has been evident in every decision he makes. His steadfast focus on student success and well-being has made a profound impact on his entire school community, earning him the respect and admiration of both his colleagues at OCASA and the families and students of Brick Township Schools.”

In 2023, the school board concretely recognized Farrell’s leadership by extending his contract with the district for an additional five years, through 2028.

“Dr. Farrell truly embodies the qualities of an outstanding superintendent and is highly deserving of this prestigious recognition,” Pereira added.

Farrell, drawing on private sector experience, immediately looked to polish the district’s reputation where he could, notwithstanding the funding cuts. He authored an influential whitepaper and opinion-editorial last year on the funding crisis that garnered recognition across New Jersey, and is currently working on a new study that seeks to delve deeper into the issue to advocate for students’ concerns as the effects of the de-funding law reverberate in many suburban districts. He also sought to re-brand the district’s schools with a new logo and slogan to highlight his priorities: “Student Centered, Teacher Led, Community Connected.”

Asked what creates excellent schools, Farrell said one word: “Relationships.”

“In particular, student-teacher relationships is what impacts students,” he said. “Great schools need to help create a learning environment where healthy student-teacher relationships happen. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level and when they have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”

“The Board of Education congratulates Dr. Farrell on this most prestigious and well-deserved honor,” said Board of Education President Stephanie Wohlrab. “We look forward to you continued work with the BOE and your leadership team in the best interest of our students, parents, staff, and community.”

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