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MPS Home ➤ District ➤ Superintendent ➤ Newsletters ➤ Spring 2017

Superintendent's Newsletter, Spring 2017

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Superintendent’s District Update

Much is written about best practices, data-driven instruction, educational theories and how they affect student performance and outcomes. For student outcomes to be positively affected, we need to develop a high degree of  trust  and collaboration among all stakeholders—administrators, teachers, support staff, families, and community. Many productive relationships have been forged in Montclair. These efforts need to be maintained and sustained over time to truly support and impact student achievement.

As you read through this newsletter, you will get a glimpse of some of the constructive programs that have been implemented. Our work must build on the evidence of what is working for our students, and we need to put aside assumptions and anecdotal stories.

Evidence of our accomplishments was reported at the January 11 Board of Education meeting. This District Initiatives update included a broad vision for raising student achievement and highlighted our work in creating tutorial programs both in-house, community- based and with our partner Montclair State University; training staff in Undoing Racism; implementing Renaissance Learning (an assessment tool); developing a standardized discipline code; and in revising our middle and high school algebra placements and course offerings.

Our focus needs to stay on the students, so the students can focus on achieving...and achieving greatly.

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Ron Bolandi
Interim Superintendent

 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Update 

Less than a year into the district-wide 3D printing initiative, our schools are offering 3D printing as a stand-alone elective with the technology becoming more integrated into the curriculum.  MakerBot has recognized us for the work that we have accomplished thus far, and we will continue to reinforce our skills and implementation by designing professional development days exclusively for this purpose including new staff members interested in joining this initiative.

In an effort to involve local professionals and college students in our STEAM activities, the district is attempting to establish a working relationship with several local entities, including a hospital and two higher-education institutions.  This opportunity will offer our students a different environment to explore their curiosity and experience success in addition to developing critical thinking.

We continue to pursue mutually-beneficial relationships with local organizations such as Liberty Science Center and the Department of Defense (Picatinny Arsenal), as well as with neighboring school districts as a means to broaden our resources, knowledge, and methods.  Mount Olive High School recently opened its doors to us, giving us a glimpse at its significant STEM programs.

The district has done a tremendous amount to meet the challenge of broadening our STEM offerings and we have made significant progress. 

Highlights from Curriculum & Instruction

  • Ask your child about MobyMax — MobyMax is a learning tool used in classrooms and available for practice use at home.  Ask your child’s teacher for log on information for using MobyMax, K-8, in math, ELA, social studies and science.

  • We are pleased to have the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination) return to MHS this year. AVID promotes student strategies for success and school-wide change to close learning gaps.  Discussion is taking place regarding the feasibility of expanding into the middle schools for next year.

  • MHS  CSJ and CGI students will be attending Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy United Nations Mini-presentations on February 24, March 24, and April 7, 2017.

  • ELA and Math teachers in Grades 2–8 are exploring the use of multiple measures of student learning for instructional planning. Many are using Renaissance Learning educational software to provide diagnostic/instructional planning information.
  • Fact Power is receiving a renewed focus in elementary math this year. Teachers are including regular practice without drill-type worksheets. Research shows that automatic recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts will facilitate success in higher-level math work.  Parents are encouraged to use MobyMax and follow directions from classroom teachers to support efforts in this area.
  • Check your child’s school website for information about February’s Black History Month.
  • ELA and mathematics curricula are in the process of being correlated to the new NJ Curricular Framework and new NJ Student Learning Standards (NJSLS).
  • In collaboration with the district review of World Language learning, all World Language teachers will participate in professional development this spring on second language acquisition theory.
  • English as a Second Language for parents/guardians are being planned. More information will be shared through your child’s school.
  • A K-5 Parent SAIL Survey has been sent electronically. This is part of a district SAIL review. Recommendations and expected improvements are planned for implementation in September.
  • Please check your school website for midterm dates (middle schools and MHS).

 

Around the Schools

Bradford

Bradford's Winter Concert on Dec. 15 was quite a show! Music Director Beverly Chisholm wowed the crowd with three, Grade 4 modern dance performances and three, Grade 5 guitar presentations in a Battle of the Bands showdown. In addition, choral performances from K-3 students and the Bradford Singers reflected the true spirit of the holiday season. 

Charles H. Bullock

Charles H. Bullock students and their “grown-ups” took part in CHB’s Third Annual Family Reading Night on Dec. 13 (K-2) and 14 (3-5). “Our Family Reading Nights are the epitome of what we love about Bullock:  bringing children and families together for an evening of reading, good food, camaraderie and fun,” said Principal Nami Kuwabara. Family Reading Nights included dinner and reading activities led by Bullock teachers, a chance to win a basket of books, and all participants received a goody bag of materials supporting literacy skills at home.

 Edgemont

The newly formed Mini-Imani Debate Team and the Electric Debate Team tackled two resolutions:  Electric Cars and Parent Volunteers Making Lunch for the Entire School during a school debate which included a unique partnership with high school volunteers, teachers, students and community leaders. Overseeing the research and preparations were teacher-coaches Sandra McKnight (Imani) and Regina O'Connor (Electric). Mini-Imani used book club time to read, discuss and write persuasive arguments to prepare, while Edgemont’s PTA After-school Enrichment program brought the Electric team together.  Everyone cheered as students voiced their opinions. In the end each team won a trophy, but more importantly, they gained confidence in their public speaking prowess. 

Hillside

Hillside Philharmonic, Chorus Dancers and Drums of Thunder (DOT) came together for a winter wonderland concert. Lou D’Amico who leads DOT was honored in a surprise presentation. Given his extraordinary, longstanding commitment to the Montclair community, students, and music education at large, Senators Kip Bateman and Michael Bateman secured a high honor Joint Legislative Resolution in his name from the State Senate and General Assembly of NJ.

Nishuane 

Nishuane School second graders were bedazzling in their performance of Strega Nona in December. Nishuane welcomed new staff members to their SNAP team: drama teacher Faith Blasi and music teacher Mr. Hill. Also in December the community came together, spearheaded by the PTA and Student Assistance Counselor Amillah Williamson, in its annual gift giving event providing families with gifts of toys, books, and clothing.

 Northeast

The Northeast Student Council was busy with lots of projects during the first few months of the school year, including Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, the Thanksgiving Food Drive for the Human Needs Food Pantry and planting bulbs to get ready for May in Montclair. The students and staff are excited to see them bloom in the spring.

 Watchung

A group of 5th grade students visited Van Dyke Manor Nursing Home to help residents celebrate the holidays. They performed musical numbers with music teacher Henry Boote and made crafts to share with the 60 residents. They will continue to work with area nursing homes throughout the year as part of community service.

Glenfield Middle School

The school enjoyed a visit from a celebrity chef, courtesy of Chartwells Food Service who coordinated the event. Chef Bal Arneson, who hosts the Cooking Channel’s “Spice Goddess,” provided a cooking demonstration during lunch. She prepared her famous "No Butter Chicken" for students and staff to sample.

Buzz Aldrin Middle School

An All-School Engineering Design Challenge was held, organized by STEM Leader Dan Taylor and the Science Department. Using their ingenuity, engineering and creativity (plus straws, spoons and tape), students worked together to design a catapult that can launch a mini marshmallow as far as possible.

Renaissance Middle School

On Dec. 23, Renaissance held its first annual Ugly Sweater Contest. Staff, including Principal Edward Wilson, participated in the school-wide event, wearing sweaters decorated by students. The winners were selected from members of Student Council with help from staff. Student Assistance Counselor Gerard Citro took first place.

Montclair High School

FTC Robotics Team 147 “Montclair Momentum” came in first place at its first competition at Millburn High School. The Team again took first at the “Robo Joust” competition in Livingston on Dec. 11. Team 147 was one of six teams out of 36 to qualify to progress to the state finals on Sun., Feb. 26.

Undoing Racism

Thank You to the Schumann Fund and MFEE for supporting  our Schools in Undoing Racism!

The District has been engaged in Undoing Racism training since Dec. 2015, and we expect all teaching staff to be trained by the end of 2017. Each workshop consists of two full days of training relative to perceptions of racism; lessons learned from history; undoing internalized racial oppression; identifying/analyzing manifestations of racism; and the social constructs affecting how people think, understand, and relate to race and culture.

Staff members are encouraged to use this training opportunity as a reflective tool to enhance efforts in eliminating achievement, opportunity, access, and learning gaps.

This critical work could not be accomplished without the generous grants from the Schumann Fund and the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE).  With their generosity, we are able to engage in professional development and create ongoing opportunities for culturally aware and responsive learning environments for staff and students alike.

Registration 2017-2018

Registration for new students and school tour information coming soon. See our virtual school tour videos.

Updated: 2/19/2017