Convocation Kicks Off 2018-19 School Year
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Superintendent Kendra V. Johnson welcomes the Montclair faculty at the opening of the 2018-2019 Convocation.
The Montclair Public Schools commemorated the opening of 2018-19 school year with its annual Convocation. Class of 2019 Student Coalition President Mark Testa began the Convocation as a representative of all students in the district. “Learning is a reward and privilege and something to strive for every day,” he said. “You are here for us, for the children who will shape our world in the years to come.” He instructed educators to consider his “Three Cs” to success: Collaboration, Collectivism and Congeniality. “Everyone is afraid of failure and rejection but you need to instill confidence and the ability to be vulnerable as well, to create eager and fearless students.”
Collage of speakers welcoming the faculty, (l-r), Student Coalition President Mark Testa; Dr. Joseph Putrino, Montclair Principals Association President and Renaissance principal; Board of Education President Laura Hertzog; and Petal Robertson, President of the Montclair Education Association.
Board of Education President Laura Hertzog took a moment to recall her past experiences in school of being bullied. “Life is hard for kids, especially with social media,” she said. I had educators who took the time to smile at me, to make me feel comfortable and it made a world a difference. “If you do that for even one child, they’ll remember that for the rest of their lives. Thank you for creating this warm, secure place where our students can learn and feel safe.”
Taking the podium next was Dr. Joseph Putrino, Montclair Principals Association President and Renaissance principal. “Montclair is a special and unique place, unlike any other town. He welcomed the new teachers to the district and encouraged veteran educators to show them the ropes. “Your dedication will inspire them,” he said. “We have to do the business of educating our kids, regardless of our fears of how we look doing it. We have to get the job done and we have to strive to do better.”
Petal Robertson, President of the Montclair Education Association shared a recent personal struggle with her health and encouraged all to make sure they pay attention to their bodies. “You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Imagine all the things you can do if you choose to be well.” she said.
Echoing Robertson’s thoughts, Superintendent Dr. Kendra V. Johnson began her address with a welcome message asking attendees to “Celebrate each other. The only way to do that is to take care of yourselves.”
Superintendent Johnson reminded educators of who they are: Dream cultivators, knowledge co-creators, curiosity leaders, greatness tour guides, love and kindness examples, surrogate parents, counselors, nurses and more. She went over the district’s goals for the new year and shared “the theme of our work, ‘Great by Design.”
“Montclair has a reputation of being a liberal, progressive educational space,” she said. “It is a changing educational context. If we want to remain, we have to intentionally and deliberately do things differently. But we always have to keep our kids first. They are why we do this work.”
Staff members celebrating 25 years of service were honored during the Convocation. (l-r): Superintendent Johnson; Deborah Stickle, Glenfield Science teacher; Renee Graham, Hillside Language Arts support teacher; Major Jennings, Buzz Aldrin Assistant Principal; Jeanette Sullivan, Edgemont paraprofessional. Not pictured: Brian Guarino, Edgemont Head Custodian; Honey Walia, Northeast Global Studies teacher.
In addition, the district recognized its 2017-18 Governor Educators of the Year who were honored at the May 16 Board of Education meeting as well as Edgemont 2nd grade teacher Smita Dharsi (see full article) who was recently named one of 21 teachers in New Jersey recognized as the 2018-19 County Teachers of the Year.
Educators of the Year: (l-r): Tracie Morrison, guidance counselor; Smita Dharsi, Edgemont 2nd grade teacher; Laurie Durber, Bradford 2nd grade teacher; Mark Stulbaum, Renaissance 8th grade Math teacher; Janet Leon, Renaissance school psychologist; Jacqueline Lubitz, Social Studies/CSJ teacher; Tracey Belsky, Buzz Aldrin in-class support teacher; Elizabeth Mealey-Flack, Glenfield teaching assistant; Lora Orta, Buzz Aldrin, teacher of the deaf.
At the close of the Convocation, staff reported to their buildings for professional development.