We are proud to announce that our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Rui Dionisio, has been recognized as the 2019-2020 Essex County Superintendent of the Year. This prestigious award is given to a Superintendent who exhibits leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and active participation in community involvement with an understanding of regional, national, and international issues. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Dionisio on this latest accomplishment.

Dr. Dionisio has served as the Verona Superintendent of Schools since 2014. He is a progressive leader maintaining a collaborative and caring approach with a student-centered focus. Garnering support from engaged stakeholders has enabled him to deliver on district achievements with a clear, consistent, and unified direction for the Verona learning community. He balances his passion for developing a common sense of purpose toward increasing academic opportunities for all students, while maintaining a focus on the social emotional learning foundation necessary to support the development of productive, healthy children. Dr. Dionisio shared, “I am humbled and honored to be selected by my peers. But this recognition is truly the result of the constant focus, commitment, and support of our Board of Education, administration, staff, students, and families in the Verona community.”

During his tenure, he has proven himself as a highly effective, collaborative leader with an ability to guide our community in an effort to raise the bar and continuously redefine success. Stewardship of our schools requires intent, process, and perseverance. He possesses a dedication and enthusiasm to develop the mind while also expanding the heart.

Dr. Dionisio is an advocate for students and staff. He has been a champion for the social, emotional, and physical well-being of students. He established a partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization developed through Stanford University, to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building sports experience. He spearheaded Verona community action committees on mental health and suicide prevention, resulting in the adoption of an innovative, therapeutic mental health program. He successfully passed the expansion of full day kindergarten through a community vote and established the award winning Verona Public Schools Magazine. Dr. Dionisio has served on several educational panels at the state level on a variety of topics.

Dr. Dionisio supports continuous growth through high quality teaching and leadership practices. He believes that an actively vibrant, student-centered educational community must be focused on empowering our students to achieve their unique, individual potential. His approach encourages the sharing of feedback to help establish the district’s vision and course of action. Under his leadership, the Verona Public Schools has made great strides toward providing a multitude of academic opportunities that have resulted in significant advancements in state and national rankings, as well as numerous recognitions and honors. He worked with our Board of Education on the development and management of multi-million dollar capital improvement projects, as well as advocated to state legislators for increased school funding. A team-based middle school house model has enabled our faculty to collaborate on a regular basis to cultivate smaller, more personalized learning communities fostering meaningful relationships amongst teachers, students, and parents. With his guidance, responsible financial planning and allocation of resources has enabled the expansion of technology throughout the entire district, in addition to a 1:1 Chromebook initiative at Verona High School. Most recently, our district action committees submitted an application for Future Ready Schools certification.

In his time with the Ridgewood Public Schools, Dr. Dionisio was the recipient of the Bristol Myers Squibb Grants for Teaching Excellence that supported inquiry-based science instruction and professional development for staff, a program ultimately adopted by the district. He maintains experience as a teacher, club advisor, athletic coach, science supervisor, assistant principal, high school principal, and superintendent. While his teaching experience spans elementary, middle, and high school levels in science, math, and technology, he has also served as an adjunct professor in the Saint Peter’s University educational leadership doctoral program. Dr. Dionisio currently serves as the Co-President of the Essex County Association of School Superintendents. He held previous roles on the NJASA Membership Services Committee and as Treasurer of the Essex County Association of School Superintendents.

Dr. Dionisio is currently studying at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government toward a credential in Public Leadership. He completed his doctorate in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall University. His dissertation examined the impact of inquiry-based science on non-cognitive outcomes and academic achievement. He holds a B.A. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and M.A. in Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University. An active member of our community, Dr. Dionisio lives in Verona with his wife and children.


Mrs. Lisa Freschi
President, Verona Board of Education