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NJDOE Acting Commissioner Repollet and Senator Gill visit Renaissance Middle School

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Students and faculty pose for a group photograph during the successful visit of NJDOE and political visitors.

New Jersey Department of Education Acting Commissioner Lamont Repollet and Senator Nia H. Gill enjoyed a visit at Renaissance at Rand Middle School on Monday, June 4. They were welcomed by Superintendent Kendra V. Johnson, Personnel Director LaMonica McIvor, Business Administrator Emidio D’Andrea, Board of Education President Laura Hertzog, Mayor Robert Jackson, Principal Ed Wilson and seven students who shared why they chose Renaissance and what makes it — and Montclair — special .

The mayor, the politician, the superintendent.(L-r) Mayor Robert Jackson, Senator Nia H. Gill, Superintendent Kendra V. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson gave the opening remarks, addressing Dr. Repollet, “We hope this is one of many visits that we can show you what is so wonderful about Montclair.”

Each of the students took the floor to share their experiences. “We have something special here called advisories,” explained Student Council President Olivia Rae Okun-Dubitsky. “I’ve learned how to cook, how to balance a checkbook. You learn something new here every day. Renaissance is a very welcoming environment.”

Renaissance students tell their visitors — with passion — what they think.

Emma Demefack said, “You get to know all of your classmates because it’s a small community. The teachers are very passionate. You go on a lot of field trips too which give you real world experience.”

Samara Haynes recalled that she didn’t know what to expect coming from a private school. “Renaissance really caters to the personal interests of each student and provides new opportunities to learn new things. What’s really special to Renaissance is that you get to focus on the things that you are interested in.”

Principal Ed Wilson (l) and Acting Commissioner Lamont Repollet.

Jordan Sawadogo stated, “Renaissance helped get me to where I should be academically. Renaissance is unique because it’s a community service-based school so we do service projects at Toni’s Kitchen, we help teachers at the elementary schools and we work in our garden.”

Sam Welsh toured the other middle schools before seeing Renaissance last. “As soon as I got here the community service drew me in. You can do whatever you want here, whether it's science and math, the arts.” He added, “The best thing about Montclair is that it is a brilliantly well-rounded community. Whatever you want to do here you can. Montclair Public Schools as a community is focused but versatile.”

Student Council Treasurer Isabella Moreno said, “Montclair is a really diverse community. Teachers really push you to do your best. Renaissance is a safe place and everyone is really nice.”

Senator Gill’s grandson John ­Gill closed the student session saying, “This school is the place where you can be yourself and grow as a good member of society.”

Students, teachers, and officials share a joke.Communicating with one another.

Following the students' remarks, Principal Wilson reiterated much of what the students expressed. “You’ll find Renaissance is a small school but one with a lot of character. You’ll see a lot of engaging things around our building. I can’t stress enough that our teachers devote their time and energy to making sure our students are well rounded, educated, good citizens.”

Senator Gill made a quick introduction and told attendees, “We’re going to work on innovative funding to create programs to reflect the diversity of this town.”

Mayor Jackson also took a moment to say he was “Thrilled that the Commissioner took time to visit. I hope what you see here is something you can model.”

Before heading out to visit classrooms, Dr. Repollet engaged the students in a brief Q&A session to hear their thoughts on standardized testing. He was quite impressed with everything the group had to say, from their introductions to their input. “It doesn’t matter how you got here. It’s what you do here. It seems like Renaissance is like a family. Students are engaged here, and that’s true learning,”

Group pictureDr. Repollet high-fives Renaissance's students.

Updated: 8/18/2018