Husband and Wife Kean Education Grads Lead Rival NJ School Districts
Roberta and Alvin Freeman have spent years in school together. The couple met as teachers in Long Branch, went to Kean together to earn their master’s and doctorate degrees in education, and now both serve as school superintendents – in neighboring towns.
Roberta Freeman, ’04 M.A., ’17 Ed.D., superintendent of schools in Middlesex Borough, and Alvin Freeman, ’03 M.A., ’17 Ed.D., superintendent in Bound Brook, also share a lifelong goal of helping young learners realize their potential.
“Having former students who become principals, doctors, lawyers – kids who really didn't have much to begin with, but were inspired by what we do – is the biggest award I could win,” Alvin said.
Their belief that the world is a classroom also extends to their home in Tinton Falls. They are parents of 10-year-old triplets.
“We have our own little classroom just in the three of them, because they're very different personalities,” Roberta said of Amani, A.J. and Ava — otherwise known as “the A-Team.”
Both Freemans were known for their enthusiasm and dynamic teaching styles as educators in Long Branch. Roberta taught second grade before becoming a reading facilitator, and Alvin taught fourth grade. They were each named Teacher of the Year in the schools where they taught.
“When we went to a luncheon, I couldn’t stop talking to her,” Alvin recalled. “Later on, we decided to meet separately from the crowd, and that day I knew she would be my wife.”
The couple married in 2002, and went to Kean together to pursue master of arts degrees in education, followed by doctorates.
Both worked as teachers and administrators in Long Branch until Roberta took a position as assistant superintendent in Middlesex in August 2021 and became superintendent in December 2022. Alvin, meanwhile, was named Bound Brook superintendent in July 2022.
The two school districts are in different counties – Bound Brook in Somerset County, and Middlesex in Middlesex County – but share a border.
“We do compete, especially at games, but we’re basically in the business of making each other better so we can provide a great experience and the best educational opportunities for our students and our communities,” Alvin said.
The husband-and-wife educators said they rely on skills they honed at Kean to help students and staff members thrive and grow.
“At Kean, students matter — the university works hard to make sure you're successful,” Alvin said. “I liked that every one of my professors had real-life experience making impactful changes on school districts, and I also appreciated Kean’s diversity in leadership.”
The couple routinely call upon the network and knowledge they cultivated during their doctoral programs.
“I always think of Dr. Effie Christie and something she said to us in our first class: ‘It’s really nice that you have an opinion, but without research to support it, don't bring it in here,’” Roberta said.
Christie noted the couple “both are fierce advocates for children, especially the underserved. They have demonstrated the risk-taking characteristics necessary to steward a district during these uncertain times in education. I am certain they will achieve any goal they set for themselves and the communities they serve.”
Steven LoCascio, Ed.D., director of educational leadership at Kean’s College of Education, added that the pair’s “effectiveness, talent and unparalleled work ethic make them what we need as practitioners and scholars.”
To others considering a Kean doctorate, the Freemans have some advice: Go for it.
“Sometimes we limit ourselves with a million reasons not to do something,” Roberta said. “I always challenge people to say, ‘Well, why can you do it?’ and use those reasons as your driving force.”