Adam C. Pfeffer, 62, of Stone Harbor, N.J., a former Cherry Hill middle school teacher who went on to be superintendent of the Collingswood School District and two Jersey Shore districts, died Sunday, May 23, at his home after an illness.
Dr. Pfeffer not only acquired the necessary funding for renovations and new construction in the three districts, but he also was an innovator, from bringing cable to classrooms to improving performing-arts programs.
"I'm not going to say he was the best ever, but . . . I haven't met anyone who was better than him," said Ian Wachstein, who served on the Collingswood school board during and after Dr. Pfeffer's time as superintendent.
During Dr. Pfeffer's first year as Collingswood superintendent in 1986, he just watched, listened, and spoke to students and staff in the kindergarten-through-12th-grade district, Wachstein said. Dr. Pfeffer did not want to have an agenda before knowing the needs of the schools.
Once his second year came around, Dr. Pfeffer got to work. The first thing on his to-do list was improving academics.
He eliminated a freshman typing class that was considered a science course and bumped biology from a 10th-grade to a ninth-grade class, Wachstein said. Dr. Pfeffer also increased the number of Advanced Placement courses in high school and added foreign-language classes for fifth and sixth graders.
In the following years, Dr. Pfeffer pushed to improve the schools' computer systems and set up cable in each classroom so teachers could follow breaking news.
"This is futuristic for us," Dr. Pfeffer told an Inquirer reporter in 1992.
He also helped get a $3 million bond issue passed to fix roofs and renovate all schools.
In 1995, Dr. Pfeffer became superintendent of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, which, at the time, covered 200 square miles, compared with Collingswood's one.
At Egg Harbor, his biggest project was an eight- or nine-year ordeal to build a new performing arts center at Cedar Creek High School, said his wife, Nancy.
"He enjoyed the whole process: getting the bond referendum, getting the community on board," she said.
When the auditorium was completed, the school board named it the Adam C. Pfeffer Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Pfeffer retired from Egg Harbor in March.
He was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bellmawr. He graduated from Triton High School in Runnemede in 1965 and went to Glassboro State College, where he received a bachelor's degree in industrial arts in 1970.
In 1968, he married his high school sweetheart, Nancy MacCarrigan.
While working on his master's degree and doctorate, Dr. Pfeffer taught industrial arts and independent studies at Beck Middle School in Cherry Hill. He received his doctorate in education 1976 from Temple University.
From 1977 to '79, he worked for the Greater Egg Harbor district, eventually becoming assistant superintendent. In 1979, he and his wife moved to Medford Lakes, and a few months later he became superintendent for the Lacey Township School District in Ocean County.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Pfeffer is survived by sons Adam and Justin, a brother, two sisters, and two grandchildren.
Friends may call after 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 5, at the Radzieta Funeral Home, 9 Hand Ave., Cape May Court House, where a memorial service will begin at 11:30 a.m.