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Welcome Back Parents/Guardians/Caregivers and Staff!

September 1, 2017

Heading into the Labor Day weekend, I wanted to send you a heartfelt welcome to the new school year. Having enjoyed meeting many of you last spring only adds to the excitement I feel about continuing our time together and meeting many more of you in 2017-18. Please know that not a minute was missed this summer in preparing for this year’s opening and both the Board and Administrators were hard at work reviewing accomplishments, setting goals, and uniting in a clear mission and vision to propel Montclair Public Schools on a continued path of excellence.

Allow me to pause briefly to recap some of our accomplishments of 2016-2017.

  • Last school year our work remained focused on reducing the achievement gap, and we continued with our Undoing Racism training.
  • We worked with clergy groups and community partners to develop tutorial programs and developed a K-5 universal literacy and math program.
  • STEM teaching and learning expanded to include every building regardless of the magnet philosophy, and the assessment tool Renaissance Learning, which would inform instructional practice to raise student achievement, was introduced in grades 1-8 for language arts and math.
  • Additionally, all of our staff participated in professional development throughout the year, as the job of teaching and learning is never done and it remains at the heart of what teachers do best.

 In 2016-2017 we felt the strain of fiscal challenges and had to forge ahead to make our budget work responsibly. We are happy to report that we were able to maintain all programs and services for our students. However, this did impact a number of personnel changes or transfers of staff among buildings for 2017-2018. Please be reminded that all personnel changes are made with the best interest of the district as a whole in mind, always striving to balance needs and talents.

We welcome four new administrators this year. Mr. Emidio D’Andrea as Business Administrator/Board Secretary, Mr. Thomas Santagato as Director of Special Services, Dr. Shivoyne Trim as Supervisor of Special Services at MHS, and Mr. John Eschmann as Director of Buildings and Grounds.

Mr. D’Andrea began his career as an accountant and auditor before becoming a Business Administrator. He is experienced at both large and small districts and is looking forward to acquainting himself with Montclair. Mr. Santagato’s references remarked about his collaborative spirit and leadership, and he was a Director at Oradell Public Schools and most recently at Hackensack. Dr. Trim has experience both at the school level and the New Jersey Department of Education with extensive work in program development. Mr. Eschmann will start on October 1 and comes to us from Roxbury Public Schools with an in-depth knowledge of capital project management.

Additionally, leading the MHS Athletic Department while we seek a permanent Athletic Director is Mr. Mike Miello in the Interim spot. Mr. Miello has a wealth of knowledge on the collegiate and high school level. For those of you who follow football, he coached with Greg Schiano at Rutgers University and was the head football coach at William Paterson University. I am sure your paths will cross at a game or two here in Montclair.

Dr. Kendra Johnson, who joined us last year as Assistant Superintendent for Equity, will be expanding her responsibilities to lead not only Equity but Curriculum and Instruction as well. Her work remains focused on equity, access, and opportunity, and she will ensure that all curricula is seen through this lens.

I am confident that these personnel appointments and changes will help us to advance the goals of the district. Your cooperation and welcoming spirit is much appreciated as we transition to a new year.

We are excited about the transition and the new work ahead of us. The Board held meetings this summer to establish its goals and objectives and fine tune the Mission, Vision, and Core Beliefs of Montclair Public Schools. This body of work can be viewed on our website. I can assure you that the Board holds its mission with the highest regard and is ready to serve the community and students in a robust, thoughtful, and energetic manner.

More broadly, I’d like to mention that reducing the achievement gap and celebrating our magnet schools will continue to be highlighted in all that we do. We will be delivering a new health curriculum which will be consistent across all schools and all grades K-12, implementing the revised science curriculum for grades 1-5, reviewing our guidance services and AP participation and diversity, and strengthening our World Language program. We will continue to write, design, and implement curricula with a deep understanding of cultural responsiveness and its impact on student achievement. These are just a few of the many areas that will be in focus for a most productive 2017-18 school year.

As you wind down from your summer schedules, please be sure to check your Parent Access accounts for all pertinent forms and information for your children. Schools will be sending messages via School Messenger as well.

To say I am looking forward to this new school year is simply an understatement. It is my honor and privilege to serve Montclair, and I am eager to partner with you as we continue to build avenues of success for our students and families! See you on opening day, September 7. Thank you for your support.

Barbara Pinsak
Interim Superintendent of Schools

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Updated: 9/27/2017