Dr. Timothy Purnell began his tenure as the superintendent of Somerville Public Schools on February 1, 2011. Dr. Purnell serves on the New Jersey State Board of Examiners and has worked as an adjunct professor at Montclair State University since 2002. Prior to his post in Somerville, Dr. Purnell served as the superintendent in Harding Township, NJ for three years. He also served as a middle school principal, elementary vice principal and science teacher.
Dr. Purnell received his Bachelors in Arts in 1997 from the University of Delaware with a concentration in Biology and a minor in Genetics. He received his Masters in Administration and Supervision in 2002 from Montclair State University and his Doctorate from Seton Hall University in 2008. Dr. Purnell ‘s research, entitled No Transient Child Left Behind, studied the link between student transience and standardized test scores on a global and national level.
Dr. Purnell has presented for the NJEA (2002), Techspo (2011 and 2015), NJASA (2012, 2014, and 2015), NJSBA (2013), and served as a keynote speaker for the Monmouth University Student Employment Awards (2008), New Jersey Development Council Leadership Conference (2009), Vollers Excavating & Construction Annual Kick-off Meeting (2013), and Wall Township Administrator Retreat (2015). He also served as a panelist for Voices of Literacy: Read into the Future (2015) and specializes in strategic planning (Your District - Make it Happen). His backpack research, in cooperation with Montclair State University, was featured in the New York Times and Star Ledger. He was also nominated to the Seton Hall Community Advisory Board, Advisory Council for the NJDOE Office of Governance & Leadership Development, and NJDOE State Program Approval Council. Dr. Purnell is the past President of the Somerset County Association of School Administrators.
Dr. Purnell is the recipient of the You Make a Difference Award, Phoenix Award for Improving Student Achievement, Governor’s Teaching Recognition Award and Weston Teaching in Excellence Award. He received a Geraldine Dodge Fellowship School Leadership Award to study the Italian educational system. Dr. Purnell was selected as the 2015 New Jersey State Superintendent of the Year (NJASA) and the 2015 top rated professor in the nation (ratemyprofessors.com).
21st Century Leadership has always been a part of the fabric of his being. As a middle school science educator in Montclair in 2001, Dr. Purnell applied for a grant entitled Internet Accountability where parents could log into class and absent students could attend through a webcam and instant messenger. He submitted his first community blog entry in October of 2008 and his first tweet in October of 2009. Dr. Purnell’s blog was given the 2010 Top School District Blog Award. He was also featured on the #HouseofEdTech as a VIP in 2014.