The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Tenafly District Welcomes New Superintendent

Tenafly+District+Welcomes+New+Superintendent

Beyond the Central Office double doors, Michael Ben-David, Tenafly’s newly appointed superintendent, intently manages the day-to-day operations of the district, ensuring adequacy of academic and athletic infrastructures, enhancing academic programs, and liaising with parents and teachers alike. Dressed in his typical formal wear, Ben-David, despite being tasked with such weighty responsibilities, displays a calm-headed and cool demeanor. His passion for education and administration is apparent on his face. Animated by a great enthusiasm, Ben-David possesses an infectious fervor for his work.

Approachable and passionate, Ben-David is equipped with both the experience and drive to lead effectively in the district. The experience, of course, comes from having dabbled his feet in a few areas along the way. An attorney turned educator, coach, principal, director, assistant superintendent, and then superintendent of schools, he is also well-acquainted with adapting to change—a core characteristic required in administrators. An avid writer to boot, Ben-David enjoys telling impactful stories in compelling and creative ways. This passion, he explained, is an enduring hobby of his. At the end of the day, Ben-David’s versatility is what distinguishes him.

Some may wonder about the reason for Ben-David’s dynamic shift in career paths, especially after his many years devoted to demanding law school study. In fact, Ben-David admits the question frequently arises in conversation. The shift, he confessed, was a long time coming. Once the spark was ignited, once education and administration were identified as lasting passions, Ben-David came to the realization that working in a nurturing academic environment akin to the one that raised him was far more rewarding than law. Ultimately, he could not ignore his impulses. Communicating with staff and students, Ben-David has been where he wants to be for the last twenty-four years; he is in his element. 

“I had a bit of a bug,” he admitted in reference to his tantalizing interests in education. This gravitational pull, which he soon found could not easily be ignored, emanated from his high school’s unique opportunity offered to graduating seniors. For the second half of the academic year, students could take on an internship of their choosing. “When they asked me what I was going to do, I actually requested to teach ninth grade medieval history,” he said, revealing a prominent grin. “So I became a senior teaching freshman.” Eager for the opportunity to work under an experienced professional, Ben-David jumped at the chance to explore an uncharted interest that touched him in a way he could not yet describe. Still, he was unaware at the time that this interest would manifest itself into a career path down the road. Nonetheless, only partially fulfilled by his first career in law, he turned to what he knew and loved: education.

Michael Ben-David, Superintendent of Tenafly Schools, speaking to the high school’s Journalism class on September 27. Photo by Gary Whitehead

He began by teaching the gamut of classes belonging to the humanities suite. A history buff at heart, Ben-David found himself eager to educate and develop his students. He was also pulled in the direction of coaching as a means of furthering his involvement with the students and the school. In this new position, which he credits with unearthing his competitive edge, Ben-David learned and developed as an educator and communicator. “It’s the same formula,” he said in reference to coaching and administration. “Being a great coach is about developing the various components of the team. It’s about assembling a great staff, designing lessons, and learning that players can benefit from facilities and fields that are adequate and quality.”

After teaching ten years at the high school level, Ben-David found himself inclined to take on a position in administration. At first becoming a building-level principal, Ben-David quickly climbed the administrative ladder to soon achieve a superintendent role in the West Morris Regional School District. So, what about administration appealed to him? Primarily, it was the people. “Nothing is more important than the people,” he said. Beyond this, the economic component was inviting. “It’s a business,” he said. “You have to make the ‘business’ sustainable so that you can provide great programs to great people.” The design aspect, as well, appealed significantly to Ben-David. “The job combines everything I am passionate about and everything I strive to be good at,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Ben-David plans to lead with an emphasis on overall refinement. “The district has some really, really passionate and smart teachers and administrators,” he said. What the schools need, he elaborated, is improved systems, alignment, and facilities. “The fiscal aspect is a key component of the puzzle,” he added. “We need to address the fiscal challenges in order to sustain growth. Short term, these issues are more pressing–particularly when you already have great students and families.” It is of the utmost importance, he explained, to have facilities that enhance rather than mute student performance.

With high hopes, Ben-David is excited to tackle the issues that face the Tenafly district. Students and staff should anticipate new and necessary changes in the near future. In fact, many, including the enhancing of infrastructures and school programs, are already underway.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Charley Levine, Managing Editor
Charley Levine ('25) is the Managing Editor of The Echo. She is an avid writer who particularly enjoys opinionated journalism. Charley spends much of her free time on the soccer and lacrosse fields as well as with her friends and family.