2019-20 School Year Begins with Staff Convocation

2019-20 School Year Begins with Staff Convocation
Posted on 09/03/2019
The Montclair Public Schools kicked off the 2019-2020 school year with its annual Convocation at Montclair High School. More than 1,000 faculty and staff members gathered for the event.

Montclair Board of Education President Eve Robinson began the morning’s festivities. “Welcome to another year and another transition. We will strive for balance in your lives. As we look for a permanent superintendent, we will be looking for authenticity, significant to successful leadership,” she said. “Educators are brain architects. The relationships you form early with your students continue throughout their lives. We stand with you, support you and will make sure you have the tools and resources necessary to do the best job you can do.”

Interim Superintendent Dr. Nathan N. Parker (pictured below) remarked that since he took office on Aug. 19, he “has been trying to learn as much as possible about each of the schools and more importantly, the history of the district.” While he admitted the district is going through a challenging time, he urged staff “not to be distracted, to stay focused and have a great school year.” He added that he plans on “involving key stakeholders in key decisions,” to move the district forward.

superintendent speaks

“Teaching is one of the most demanding professions,” said Montclair Principals Association President and Renaissance Principal Dr. Joseph Putrino. “We have children placed in our care and told to ‘make a difference,’ which sounds easy to do. But we know how challenging it is, and it’s even more challenging in Montclair. Yet you still come back, year after year. You know that beyond the challenges this is one of the most rewarding professions. Going into the new school year, I know you’ve got this!”

Montclair Education Association President Petal Robertson began her presentation with a personal anecdote about a time she was planning her own “surprise” birthday party. Things don’t always go as planned though and as it turned out, her friends and family actually surprised her first. Despite the shock, she realized she was surrounded by a circle of people who would go the extra mile for her. “The surprise can be the prize,” she said. “There are always endless surprises in Montclair. Some good, some bad. But we don’t need to know every step. We have been the foundation here and that will sustain the district through every surprise. Teachers thrive on change. That’s when we see what you’re made of. You are the ‘extra mile’ people.”

MHS Class of 2020 President Mia Rodriguez-Vars reminded the audience, “You are not just educating students; you are shaping them.” She shared memories of her years in Montclair classrooms and the impact it has had on her. “You have modeled what it’s like to throw yourself into your work. We see and feel your dedication. You are what makes Montclair the unique learning experience that it is and you inspire lifelong learners.”

Fellow student Estée Goel, Student Coalition President, echoed her sentiments. “Each one of you makes a difference. Not just the teachers,” she said. “It takes a village. Montclair Public Schools is a village. Students have gone on to be successful because of the wonderful impact you have all had on their lives.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Josue Falaise (pictured below), Director of the Rutgers Institute for Improving Student Achievement, which provides professional development and executive level training for continuous improvement in the achievement of all students through the combined efforts of Rutgers University, PreK-12 districts, corporate affiliates, other professional organizations and community partners. A product of the Montclair school system, Falaise (MHS '91) presented “My Voice. My Choice. Can you Hear Me?” He talked about his journey throughout his academic years and how he consistently was told he “should not,” or “could not,” be who and what he wanted to be in life. “That resonating sound stayed with me,” he said. He encouraged faculty to find ways to connect with students, engage them and help them find their voice to push back against preconceived judgements that may hinder their success.

keynote speaker gives address

Falaise recalled one teacher in particular who helped him do just that. “There was one person, one conversation  when I was in high school that helped me reach and have an impact on students and teachers today. He made me believe I could be successful. That person was current Montclair High School Phys Ed teacher Chris Johnson, who he reunited with in front of the audience before concluding his speech. “To all the educators, you never know the impact you have, not just today, but long after.”

photo of screen    men embrace

The morning concluded with a slide show honoring staff who celebrated 25 years in the district and the 2018-19 Educators of the Year. Following Convocation, staff reported to their buildings for professional development.    
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