Bergen County District Suddenly Terminates Super, Hires New One With Double Doctorates

Ramapo-lndian Hills Regional High School has hired a new superintendent.

Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi

Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi

Photo Credit: Pennsauken Public Schools

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, May 28, the RIH Board of Education voted 9-0 in favor of approving Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi's contract, which goes into effect July 1.

The board also voted 7-0 with two abstentions to terminate the contract of interim superintendent Dr. James Baker. When asked about the sudden termination of Baker's contract, the BOE declined to comment on personnel matters.

The board also voted 5-4 in favor of appointing Dr. Melissa Quackenbush, the district's director of curriculum, to acting superintendent.

Tarchichi has been in his role as superintendent of Pennsauken schools since 2016 and will be moving up to North Jersey this summer.

Keeping Tarchichi out of the classroom has been an impossible feat, both in teaching roles and as a student.

Since starting out as an assistant principal at Salem County Vocational Technical Schools, Tarchichi has amassed six masters degrees and two doctorates — a PhD in education with a concentration in special education, and an EdD in educational leadership.

"My education is interesting — I went and studied science in college and knew I was either going into medicine or teaching," Tarchichi said.

"I kept going to school learning more and more, and kept getting degrees. Maybe a little too many."

His email signature looks something like this: Ronnie Tarchichi, M.Ed.2., M.S., M.B.S., M.A.2, Ed.D., Ph.D.

"I love the profession because I continue to learn myself and push that onto our student population as well," he said. 

"And I never wanted to leave the classroom because I enjoy being with the kids. Interacting with the students is probably my favorite thing about the job."

Tarchichi also makes sure to continue actively teaching, particularly the more difficult sciences: Chemistry, biology and physics. In Pennsauken, he's been teaching physics.

Tarchichi prides himself in growing the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming in Pennsauken, is plans on doing the same for RIH, noting a nationwide expansion of vocational jobs.

"The growth of CTE jobs are not just statewide, but throughout the nation," the superintendent said. "There are too many jobs, high-paying ones, and not enough applicants."

The most popular trades seem to be split evenly between automotives, cosmetology, and electrical, the superintendent said. The welding and air Force ROTC programs have also gotten popular, he said.

"I have students leaving Pennsauken finishing welding programs and going into jobs paying $35 an hour straight out of high school," he said. "It's immediate employment, and high-paid jobs than a lot of of college.

Tarchichi says the Bergen County vocational schools do a very good job of servicing students, however, vocational schools across the entire state and nation can't service all students who want to take part in the programs.

Therefor, comprehensive school districts across the country are beginning to build CTE programs within their schools, he said.

He hopes that implementing similar programs at RIH will give students options in their futures, and help relieve the demand for the county.

"The kids really love coming out of high school with those skills," he said. "And a lot still go to college."

In addition to growing CTE programming for RIH, Tarchichi said he also has plans to enhance athletic facilities, on top of managing all of the other responsibilities that come with the role.

Kim Ansh, the president of RIH's Board of Education," said the board is "thrilled" to have Tarchichi joining the district.

"He's got great ideas and energy, and we're excited to be working with him," she said. "The board was unanimous in its support of Dr. Tarchichi and we can't wait for him to start."

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