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Irvington Superintendent Relishes The Challenge

IRVINGTON, N.Y. – Robert Roelle said there's something about the leadership role of the superintendency that keeps him coming out of retirement.

“I enjoy the challenge and I am a strong, strong advocate for public schools,” he said. “I really believe it's the backbone of America's democracy. So, not withstanding the challenges, I feel good about coming back again and being a superintendent again.”

Roelle was recently named the new interim superintendent for the Irvington Free Union School District, replacing Kathleen Matusiak. He will stay in his position for one year while the Board of Education conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

Roelle has previous worked for the Ossining and Katonah-Lewisboro school districts. He has been a superintendent for 28 years, but he's always viewed himself as a teacher.

“If it's not working with the children, it's working with the teachers,” he said. “If it's not working with the teachers, it's working with the administrators.”

Roelle got his start in teaching more than 40 years ago in Illinois, where he taught social studies and did a little coaching. He didn't coach for very long—probably because he had a lousy coaching record, Roelle said.

Roelle's philosophy is simple: “Schools operate for the benefit of children, and everything we do ought to be measured against 'Is it good for children?'”

He said his most important goal this year is to help create the path for the next superintendent so that the transition is easy and efficient. Roelle said his job will also include normal superintendent duties, such as working with the State Education Department and each school in the district.

Outside of school, Roelle enjoys hiking, biking, reading and working in the yard. He has been married since 1966 (to his “first wife,” he joked). Roelle has a daughter and two sons, as well as eight grandchildren.

Roelle said he and his wife have begun a mission to find and ride all the bike trails throughout the Northeast region. They've done about seven so far this summer.

Roelle described Irvington as “a nice place.”

“I love the rivertowns,” he said. “I love the Hudson Valley, and if you want picturesque, you couldn't draw a better picture than of Irvington.”

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