Montclair Public Schools Commemorates New School Year with Convocation
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
During the Convocation, staff members celebrating 25 years of service were honored. From left, BOE President Laura Hertzog, Caroline Bogner, Buildings & Grounds; Maria Gonzalez-Block, MHS Spanish teacher, Tracey Kelly-Lever, Hillside Phys. Ed. teacher, Joyce Korotkin, Renaissance Art teacher, Emmett Murphy, Glenfield Math teacher, Joanne Petrigliano, MHS Art teacher, Patricia Thomas, Buzz Aldrin English teacher, Susan Wasilak, Buzz Aldrin Psychologist. Not pictured, Gerald Silvera, Edgemont Phys. Ed. Teacher.
The Montclair Public Schools commemorated the opening of 2017-18 school year with its annual Convocation. Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak opened the program welcoming back the staff. “This is an amazing school district and I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished,” she said. “But we have more to learn and more to teach. There are always new challenges and of course, our new students. I know you will make it a wonderful year.”
Montclair Board of Education President Laura Hertzog shared a quote from former U.S. representative Solomon Ortiz: “Education is the key to success in life. Teachers make a lasting impact on the lives of their students.” Hertzog also reminisced about the teachers and educational experiences she had growing up and how each has had an impact. “Teachers, counselors, principals, custodians… all of you do things to take care of these kids and their needs, whether they find school a breeze or a challenge. You make a difference.”
L-r: Interim Superintendent of Schools Barbara Pinsak; Board of Education President Laura Hertzog; High School Principal James Earle.
Montclair High School Principal James Earle took the podium as president of the Montclair Principals Association. “Soon we will welcome 6,000 excited young minds who are here to learn and explore. They will challenge you in every possible way, but I have no doubt you are up to the challenge,” he said. “Educators have the power to listen and engage kids, the power to encourage them to attend school, to make them feel special and make the invisible visible. Know where they come from and where they go to. Make the connection. Fight for them and with them.”
Petal Robertson, the new Montclair Education Association President reminded staff that they are “not here to just go through the motions.” She encouraged them to unite as a district, be strong and face challenges together. “You have to be great.”
L-r: Keynote speaker Dr. John Jackson; Montclair Education Association President Petal Robertson; Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Dr. Kendra V. Johnson.
MHS Student Coalition President Daniel Banks recounted some of the roadblocks he faced early on as a student and how he has overcome them. He reminded staff “there are students who face obstacles every day. You never know how much you can positively affect a student’s life.”
Lastly, keynote speaker Dr. John Jackson, CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education took the podium. Jackson leads the Foundation’s efforts to ensure a high quality public education for all students regardless of race or gender. “The ‘achievement gap’ is actually an opportunity gap. All students can learn if you give them the necessary supports and the opportunity to learn,” he said. Reminding staff that we all face challenges along the way, he instructed, “Take the moments when young people are off track and use your experience and your love to put them back on track.” Jackson admitted, “It will take a level of perseverance, but you have the gift, talent, investment and drive to close the opportunity gap. Ask yourselves, ‘what more can I do to embrace the humanity of each student?”
Before heading to further professional development sessions, Dr. Kendra Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Equity offered encouraging parting words and asked staff to take time to reflect on the inspirational advice of each speaker.