Dr. Roth Joins District Admin Team


Dr. Roth took the opportunity to snap a group selfie with The Spotlight staff during a recent in-class press conference. Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Q. Roth via Twitter.

Saskia Van't Hof, Staff Reporter

Thirty years ago, when Dr. Michael Q. Roth was in high school, his guidance counselor told him that he should give up on his dream to become a history teacher. He told him that a degree in teaching was impractical and useless, insisting that he should consider a career as an engineer instead.

Dr. Roth became a teacher anyway.

This summer, Dr. Roth joined Southern Lehigh School District as the new assistant superintendent. His job entails working with other administrators to develop plans and make decisions for the district.

“I am very excited to work together this year alongside Superintendent Mrs. Kathleen Evison to help lead teams and determine what happens to students in the school,” Dr. Roth said.

Dr. Roth grew up locally and graduated from Pen Argyl High School. He pursued a major in history, receiving his bachelor’s from Moravian College and completing coursework at William and Mary toward his master’s in history. He earned another master’s from Wilkes University in educational leadership, as well as a Letter of Eligibility for Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. Finally, he completed a Doctorate of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

After earning his bachelor’s, Dr. Roth began his career working as a history teacher at Nazareth Middle School where he later became the principal. Over the years, he also served as the director of educational programs at Quakertown Community School District and as assistant superintendent at Nazareth School District and superintendent at Salisbury School District.

In fact, a few high school faculty members were once Dr. Roth’s students. Family consumer science teacher Mrs. Danika Wall and English teacher Mrs. Lauren Tocci were his middle school history students, and math teacher Mr. Jonathan Piperato was in sixth grade when Dr. Roth was a middle school principal.

“The first thing I recognized about him was his voice. There was just something about it that I remembered from middle school,” Mrs. Tocci said. “I remember him being very controlled while also energetic when he taught.”

Additionally, Dr. Roth spent about a year working with Discovery Education, where he traveled across the country advising different school districts and helping them innovate their curriculum. His favorite part about the experience was being able to observe classrooms in drastically different environments.

Despite the number of schools that he has seen, Dr. Roth believes that the energy and spirit that Southern Lehigh exudes has set the community apart.

“This school has probably the best pep rally I’ve ever been to,” he said. “It was amazing how much was student led.”

Dr. Roth also has many ideas on how the district can be improved. Having experience working with so many different schools, he hopes to bring inventive suggestions to the table.

“I want to continue to support the work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think that’s really important, because when I think about what it means to be a successful person in a global society, it’s being culturally competent and being able to navigate any situation that’s been put in front of you,” he said. “I think Southern Lehigh is really a great place, and I think we need to get the news out about that, but also asking about how we [as a district] can get better.”

Dr. Roth plans to encourage the use of social media to promote Southern Lehigh events. He believes that social media, especially Twitter, is an effective way to communicate digitally with young adults. In his dissertation, titled “Superintendent Use of Twitter: Learning, Leading and Leveraging Through Social Media,” he discusses the ways in which schools can use social media platforms to guide their students.

“Right now, Southern Lehigh sort of has pockets around social media” he said. “I want to work with Mrs. Evison to empower administrators to use it as a tool to get the stories out.”

Many students agree with this suggestion. In such a digital age, social media is relevant to every aspect of many young adults’ lives.

“The majority of students use some sort of social media, so I think the school needs to appeal to that,” freshman vice president Jack Ziets said. “Some of my friends only get their news from places like Twitter, so I think the school can do a lot with that.”

Above all, Dr. Roth wants to make decisions that will truly benefit the needs of the student body. He hopes to make changes that will cultivate lasting results in the school district.

Updated November 1, 2017: We originally reported in error that Dr. Roth earned his master’s degree from William and Mary, and assistant superintendent at Salisbury School District. The Spotlight staff regrets the error and, we have corrected the article for accuracy.