Michael Dean . . . Our True Upper Freehold Hero

posted Apr 16, 2016, 6:18 AM by Dick Fitzpatrick

Dear Colleagues, Parents and Students,

Please join me in thanking one of our dedicated and talented educators for his ongoing bravery and courage. Tonight, I write this message with a heavy heart as I bring closure to what has been a very sad day for many of us.  Today we wished our Technology Manager, Mr. Michael Dean, a fond farewell as he completed his preparations for his assignment for the next half of 2016.  Mr. Dean is a member of the Navy Reserve and has been called, once again, to serve his country as well as all of the children and families of Allentown, Upper Freehold, New Jersey and America!

 I say once again because when I first Interviewed Mr. Dean I was the Superintendent of Schools in Colt’s Neck. Our Colt’s Neck Committee was very impressed with this committed, knowledgeable, and bright former Math Teacher that we interviewed.  He was a math teacher from Allentown High School and quickly emerged as our first choice for the position of the Director of Technology. I offered this talented educator the position and felt I had found the man that we needed to take us to the next level in technology. Just days before his first day, he called me and said, “I have to withdraw from the position.  I never could have anticipated his answer when I asked him, “Why? How could you do this to me?” He responded, “My country has called upon me to serve in US Navy stationed in Afghanistan for the next two years!” He was not angry, he was not bitter; he simply felt that his country called him to duty and he must honor and respect the call. 

Years went by and I came to this wonderful place that I love so very much. About a year and a half ago our Technology Manager found a school district close to his home and decided to eliminate the stress of a long daily commute and accepted their offer.  I posted the position and we had a large number of applicants.  I was sorting through the resumes and was shocked to find an application from the very man I hired and lost before he could work a day. After interviewing thirteen candidates, the search committee reduced the list to a short list of finalists and yes, there was a familiar name at the top of the list, Mr. Michael Dean.

Mr. Dean has been a remarkable educator, tech advocate, and thinker.  He loves his work, our staff, and all our kids.  He has done more for UFRSD technology in the short time he has been here than anyone could have ever imagined. He took the concept of a one to one computer initiative and made it a tremendous success and set sparks flying for the future of technology in our district. Just when we started to prepare for the next phase of the initiative, I was stunned when he shared with me that as part of the US “Boots on the Ground Initiative” he was called back to duty in Afghanistan for six months.  Once again he has been asked to serve the people of the US and leave his family to preserve and protect my children, my grandchildren, my Upper Freehold children, and the families that have made our school district a wonderful place to live.

Once again, I am joined by my Upper Freehold family as we bid Michael farewell, and a safe landing in Afghanistan.  He will remain in my prayers as well as the prayers of our wonderful faculty and staff while he is embedded in this war torn region.  There is one thing I know with certainty. Mr. Dean has a home here and we will all keep our candles burning in our windows until he comes back home where he belongs. He has become my brother, our brother, my friend, our friend and my role model and hopefully your role model.  Michael will be sorely missed while he is away.

Dick Fitzpatrick

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