Paul Kadri received a phone call from Money magazine in 2005 with some exciting news. The journalist informed him that Moorestown, N.J., where he served as the school district’s superintendent, was named the best place to live in the United States. At the time of this phone call, the city’s mayor was the only other person to have been notified.
Paul Kadri acknowledges that many awards and accolades are presented by the media on a daily basis to various individuals and groups. However, this national recognition was both unexpected and greatly appreciated. Many people across the country take great pride in their hometowns, says Paul Kadri. He believes that this tremendous honor speaks volumes to the terrific sense of community spirit that Moorestown embodies.
For longtime superintendent Paul Kadri, the challenge of figuring out complex tasks has always intrigued him. It provides him a tremendous sense of accomplishment to discover new and fascinating ways of examining an issue.
One particular encounter presented Paul Kadri with a difficult yet ultimately rewarding opportunity that has made a significant impact in his life ever since. A representative from Johns Hopkins University visited Paul Kadri in 2005 and asked him to offer a donation. Paul Kadri had donated financial gifts regularly over the years, but this time would be much different.
Paul Kadri received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Wharton School. Paul has taken numerous Doctoral credits in Education from the Pennsylvania University and Delaware University. Having strong financial skills has always been an asset for Paul Kadri in order to create opportunities not readily noticed.
Q: What are the most important elements to building a successful organization?
Paul Kadri: Information, time, and resources/funding. The organization that can optimize these areas typically has a competitive advantage.
Having accurate data is crucially important for any organization. Upon arriving at the Groton public schools as superintendent in December 2008, one of the first things Paul Kadri did was review the accuracy of its data. He started by working with the technology department to inventory all of the systems that existed in the district. He remembers the technology director drawing a diagram on the whiteboard showing each of the computer systems ranging from the very critical back-office systems to the instructional systems that resided in a few schools.
With everything laid out, the difficult work began. It started with identifying each data element (student name, for example) and determining which system should be the source location for that element. This is an easy example because the student information system was the logical choice. What had happened in the past was that a student’s name was entered in every system.
Ask Paul Kadri what is his most important responsibility as a superintendent and he will tell you it’s to keep everyone safe. In an organization like the school district there is both physical safety and emotional safety for both students and staff. Threats to safety can come in the form of a custody dispute, and outside incident, a problem with the building, or the interactions that take place between individuals. There are also societal threats such as gangs and drugs where a school district needs to be particularly vigilant.
With safety as his No. 1 priority, Paul Kadri has always conducted a safety audit before making any changes to a school’s security procedures. Preventing something from happening is certainly the goal, but a school district’s ability to quickly respond and resolve any issues that arise is even more important. Not resolving something rapidly can literally paralyze a school in the short term and emotionally scar those in the school for the long term. Swift issue resolution is also the greatest deterrent for those who may be considering mischief.