Vol. 2, No. 1
New Milford Knightly News Superintendent’s Newsletter a publication of the New Milford Public School District Administrative Offices, 145 Madison Avenue, New Milford, New Jersey 07646 1.1 Message from the Superintendent:
Teachers, students return with renewed energy and commitment
IN THIS ISSUE ✦ 1.1
WELCOME BACK MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT ✦ 1.2
DISTRICT FINANCES: A WORD FROM THE BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR
It is great to have everyone back again. The summer, however busy, is quiet and much less vibrant without the presence of children, staff and parent engagement. Seeing them again is not only refreshing, it also reconfirms why we are here in the first place.
of funding not an excuse to not progress
CHATTING WITH KIDS ABOUT BEING ONLINE ✦ 1.5
HS TO HOST REGIONAL TECH CONFERENCE DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION Michael A. Polizzi Superintendent Michael Sawicz Business Administrator/Board Secretary Ray Dorso Director of Special Services Danielle Shanley Director of Curriculum & Instruction NEW MILFORD BOARD OF EDUCATION Daniel Conner, President Darren Drake, Vice President Lori Barton John Bigger David Foo Judith Rabinowitz-McSweeney Geraldine Mechler Peggy Saslow Joseph Steele 1
(more on p.2)
NEW MILFORD PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT MISSION
sweet children, one at Berkley and one at DEO. Our hearts reach out to the Lacey family, in particular her kids who probably need our support now more than ever. I know that I will do my best
As I stated to faculty and staff on opening day, what I find gratifying about beginning my second year as Superintendent of New Milford is that together we have overcome some very difficult odds. I want to publicly thank all those who had a role in making last year so successful. Budget aside, we are moving ahead with an ambitious agenda of school improvement, program development, curriculum revision, and facilities upgrades, and I look forward to those opportunities that will continue to challenge us at the most unexpected levels. You may have heard me say this before: I will not use the loss of funding as an excuse not to progress—this relates to programs, the advancement of professional practice, facilities and grounds—all essential components of the long term District vision. Unfortunately, we also open the year with great sadness. After a two-year struggle, former Board member Theresa Lacey succumbed to cancer. For those who knew Theresa, she leaves behind her husband who was steadfast in his love and care for her and two very
The New Milford Public School District provides relevant, innovative and rigorous educational opportunities to students at all grade levels. The District is resolute in its attention to the development of the whole child by providing a comprehensive range of experiences essential to building capacity for independent and responsible living. The program is designed to prepare all students to meet or exceed NJCCCS, think critically, master the challenges of life-long academic, cultural, social, economic, emotional and professional advancement, as well as constructive participation as citizens in an interdependent global society. The District embraces family and community as active partners in a unified effort to develop students into self-directed, self-confident adults on their journeys to becoming the next generations of entrepreneurs, builders, artists, designers, inventors, scientists, educators, caregivers, protectors, workers and leaders.
NEW MILFORD KNIGHTLY NEWS
1.2 District Finances:
It’s Fall and the Challenges Continue
Michael Sawicz, CPA Business Administrator/ Board Secretary
Every year it seems as though the financing of public education in New Jersey can’t get any more challenging. Over time we have faced a multitude of issues yet have been able to maintain a system that produces students who rank near the top in the nation. This last school year was unprecedented in the magnitude of the dollars taken from public education. Across the state, no school district was spared the pain of significant cuts in staffing and programs. In New Milford, a loss of nearly two million dollars in state aid means that the total school budget for 2010-2011 is less than the prior year budget despite increased operating costs. Additionally, the financial pressures of running a school district have (for the foreseeable future) been intertwined with the fortunes of the state…...and the state is in a financial crisis. So the question becomes “How will public education be impacted over the next few years?” It took over twenty five years (and several administrations) of fiscal mismanagement at the state level to create this crisis. Now, as educators, we worry that, at last tally, our pension funds are short (underfunded) by about $46 billion. State debt is at an all-time high and various fund accounts including the highway trust and unemployment are all depleted. Adding insult to injury, the taxpayers still owe $100 million for the old Giants Stadium that was recently demolished because racetrack monies originally targeted to finance the stadium were diverted to state coffers over the years. Unfortunately, it will take many years to return the state to sound financial footing and during that time property taxes will remain the highest in the country. We can only hope that our
SEPTEMBER 2010 lawmakers fully appreciate and value public education and that some of the cuts in state aid can be restored. As we begin the new school year, it’s easy to feel like a boxer between rounds. We’re in a heavyweight fight, we’re a little tired and beaten and the ring of a bell (summertime) provides a brief respite. Now it’s the fall and our students are back. The bell has sounded again, and again we prepare to continue the good fight of public education financing. Our finances and operations are in good order, and we look for opportunities to move forward and make our district the model of 21st Century education.
1.1 Supt.’s Message (from p.1) in my leadership of the District to draw upon Theresa’s spirit, her love for life, her dedication to her profession as a teacher, and her powerful commitment to New Milford. This past year, as the community is acutely aware, was full of challenges. I don’t expect that to change, particularly in light of many far-reaching decisions occurring at the state level. I do, however, enter this year with great confidence due in part to consistent leadership at all schools, the promotion of Jerry Perrone to High School Vice Principal and Mary Bilali as District Director of Guidance. I also welcome to the administrative team Danielle Shanley as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction, who has hit the ground running. We start this year with a great deal of enthusiasm, beginning with the opening of Inner Bridge Crossing, a specialized program serving children with social and communicative disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, and nonverbal learning disabilities. This PK-2 program is located at Berkley in two newly painted, equipped and designed classrooms. And just recently, I met with bergenPAC director David
Rodriguez to discuss the emerging partnership between PAC and the District, a partnership that provides our students direct access to the professional arts community, arts education and state of the arts facilities of both bergenPAC and Bennett Recording Studios. With kudos to all involved, the opening of school, with some customary glitches, has gone well. Technology resources in all schools have been upgraded including the high school graphic arts lab. Anyone accessing school websites may have noticed the newly redesigned format, which now possesses a common look and feel reflecting a unified District standard. School grounds are in good shape and the buildings sparkle. On behalf of the central administrative team, I look forward to working with the community, school leaders, the Board, faculty and students to realize the District mission and develop strategies to actualize a common vision on the District’s journey from good to great.
CURRICULUM CORNER 1.3
NEW FROM DANIELLE SHANLEY, DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” ~ Plato~ (full feature on p.4)
NEW MILFORD KNIGHTLY NEWS
SEPTEMBER 2010 NMEF FOUNDERS & BOARD: Alison Fischer, CEO Joseph LoPorto, CFO Jose Camacho Marlenis Camacho Megan Farricker Celeste Scavetta Stacey Sidorsky Joanne Spurlin Colleen Tambuscio
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity, the New Milford Education Foundation (NMEF) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching, enhancing and supporting New Milford’s public education system. The NMEF supports New Milford Public Schools in providing a challenging and enriching educational experience that maximizes the learning potential of every student and prepares them to succeed in the 21st century. The Foundation provides incentives to stimulate excellence in the New Milford Public Schools by awarding grants for projects, programs and purchases that support the curriculum and facilities, by funding scholarships for students and professional development for educators, and by raising the profile of public education in New Milford. 1.4 Net Cetera
CHATTING WITH KIDS ABOUT BEING ONLINE
IN ONE OF THE SUMMER MAILINGS, PARENTS RECEIVED A BOOKLET TITLED NET CETERA: CHATTING WITH
KIDS ABOUT BEING ONLINE. This free resource was distributed so that parents would be better informed about the benefits and potential dangers associated with increased use of technology. Our goal in sharing this resource is to partner with parents in the development of smart users of technology, including social media, and responsible decision makers. The Internet democratizes communication by placing web-based tools into the hands of individuals at literally every strata of society—that means men, women and children, young and old, with or without means, in
developed and undeveloped nations, and immune from those barriers that typically separate people from people and limit the spread of knowledge, opportunities and ideas. With the emergence of new social media tools, the vision is now an ever-changing reality that places at one’s fingertips the power to publish, communicate anywhere on the planet, and access information in unprecedented quantity and speed. What becomes increasingly apparent is the need for understanding of these tools and the power they possess.
Parents have crucial role in promoting responsible use.
As schools nationwide adopt new policies governing the use of social media as a vital and vibrant complement to education, parents must learn about the crucial role they play in working
Special thanks to our donors for their generous contributions which help seed the establishment of the foundation and support its ongoing activities. To make your donation, please send your check made payable to: “New Milford Education Foundation” and mail to: NMEF 145 Madison Avenue New Milford, NJ 07646 p: 201.639.6633 f: 201.639.6634 c: 201.294.8421 For information on how to give, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org Stay tuned for website coming soon: www.newmilfordfoundation.org
with their children to promote healthy and productive social media practices. Like all new tools, proper use requires attention and practice. To begin, check out : Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. This government-sponsored resource is available at www.onguardonline.gov. Parents and their kids will find helpful guidance and information about topics such as Kids’ Privacy, Scams, Computer Security, Health Online, Identity Theft, and so forth. Awareness is the beginning of good practices at home as well as in school. As the District moves forward with its plans to expand educational use of Web 2.0 tools, it is important for parents to be on board with new online applications and acceptable use policies for home and school.
INVESTOR NEW MILFORD NEWSLETTER KNIGHTLY ISSUE NEWS N°3
1.5 NEW MILFORD HIGH SCHOOL TO HOST TRI-STATE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE (TSETC)
CURRICULUM CORNER BY DANIELLE SHANLEY,
DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION
Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010 Time: 9am-4pm Location: New Milford High School 1 Snyder Circle New Milford, New Jersey 07646
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
New Milford High School announces plans to host the first Tri-State Educational Technology Conference (TSETC) at New Milford High School on Saturday, October 2, 2010.
Open to all educators, this free event, according to Principal Eric Sheninger, “aims to satisfy teachers’ craving to learn about exciting, innovative practices that effectively integrate technology.” Co-sponsored by the New Milford Public School District and Schoology, an educational technology company based in Manhattan, TSETC (www.tsetc.org) will provide free learning on web 2.0 applications that represent the cutting edge of new technologies in the 21st Century classroom. Workshops will focus on integration strategies for teachers, administrators and parents, school improvement, enhancing the digital learning space, social networking for educators, professional growth, best practices for preparing students for a technology-driven future, leading schools in the digital era, improving communication and collaboration inside and outside of the classroom, and technical support and infrastructure. According to Sheninger, “Project ABLE, a subsidiary of The Madison Institute, will be helping to sponsor the conference.”
As we begin the new school year, we have seen many smaller new beginnings within a greater one. The innocent faces of wide-‐eyed students entered Kindergarten; little hands carried new lunchboxes, …
(more below…) … and cheeks glistened with tears. The elementary students felt a sense of familiarity in their home schools, and have begun to use their new pencil boxes, journals and book bags. Once anxious sixth graders are getting in the groove of middle school; they’ve been practicing using the combination locks and are finally navigating the sections of three-ring binders. Freshmen are finding their ways to classes, figuring which stairwells to use to get to the cafeteria in the high school...yes, the high school, where everything counts. The juniors are beginning the third and, arguably, most important year of high school for college admission. Then, we discover a new group of faces in the senior lounge, belonging to a group of young adults, thrilled to begin the last leg of public education in preparation for college and career. Teachers, with butterflies of their own, make their lunches and lay out their clothes at night; they decorate bulletin boards and prepare lessons in concert with newly adopted curricula. They distribute new textbooks, establish guidelines for the classrooms, share their passions for their subjects and 4
begin to develop new relationships with their students. Many parents watch from afar and wonder, “Where did the time go? It was only 13 years ago when my baby was born. Now she is in Middle School!” The years and the milestones are different for each parent, but the feelings remain the same. The teachers and administrators mirror those sentiments as we watch students grow, teach the younger siblings of former students, and even more amazing to some, teach the children of former students. Time passes entirely too quickly, so how do we make the very most of this school year? We provide the families of New Milford with the best education possible. This summer, we welcomed 15 new teachers to the district. Before the school year began, they spent three days collaborating, and learning about the culture and expectations of the district. The focus areas of the New Teacher Orientation included the mission and goals of the Board of Education, ethical issues in education, meaningful educational technology and classroom
methods, getting the best from your students through interest and learning styles inventories, using formative assessment to guide instruction and applying best practices in summative assessments. These workshops and collaborations will continue throughout the year to cultivate the shared vision, support newer teachers and increase student achievement. Before the students returned to school, the teachers and administrators embarked on a professional development quest which is being supported, in part, by the many opportunities built into the school calendar this year. The teachers are building academic working teams called Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). This concept of learning communities was developed and coined by Richard Dufour in the early 1980s, with a focus shifting from isolated, disconnected professional development to collective research and jobembedded, shared, meaningful, best practices in education. Every certificated staff member, including administrators, will be active members of at least one PLC this year. The
INVESTOR NEW MILFORD NEWSLETTER KNIGHTLY ISSUE NEWS N°3
SEPTEMBER FALL 2009 2010
1.3 Curriculum Corner (from p. 4) non-negotiable goal of every PLC must be student achievement. PLCs use state and local data to evaluate instructional effectiveness and academic growth. Feel free to ask any teacher to tell you about the focus of his or her PLC. Funding to support the needs of the Professional Learning Communities are provided by grants through No Child Left Behind, Title IIA and Title II D. Learn more about PLCs here. No Child Left Behind grant funding (Title III) is also allowing us to provide Rosetta Stone for our English Language Learners. This web-based, interactive, “Dynamic Immersion” program is intended to supplement the quality instruction provided by our ELL teachers in grades K-12. To learn more about learning English with Rosetta Stone, click here.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learned in school.” ~Albert Einstein
The elementary schools are excited to continue with the Everyday Math program. This standards-based program provides the students with a curricular focus in six algebra- based cluster areas: Algebra; Data and Chance; Geometry; Measurement; Numeration and Order; Patterns, Functions and Sequences; Operations; and Reference Frames. To learn more about the program, visit Everyday Math online. Towards the end of the school year last year, the State of New Jersey adopted National Core Standards for Math and Language Arts. New Jersey is one of 5
48 participating states in the nation to adopt these standards. Many of our newly BOE adopted curricula in Language Arts and Mathematics are reflective of these. As we move forward, we will be using National Core Standards as the backwards starting point for all related courses. What is the best use of our time, as parents, as educators, and students? What do we really need to know to be successful adults? What do children ultimately need to learn? Our work will not be complete until we satisfy our mission statement: to prepare all students to meet or exceed NJCCCS, to think critically, master the challenges of life-long academic, cultural, social, economic, emotional and professional advancement, as well as constructive participation as citizens in an interdependent global society. We will be many steps closer to our goal at this year’s end. Wishing you a fulfilling school year!
CONTRIBUTORS AND STAFF Michael Polizzi Superintendent Michael Sawicz Business Administrator/Board Secretary Raymond Dorso Director of Special Services Danielle Shanley Director of Curriculum & Instruction Walt Pevny District Webmaster
IBC Faculty & Staff Ray Dorso Director Special Services Nicole Elmera District Behaviorist Ann Marie Corby Faculty Sarah Fernandes Faculty Kevin Flynn Faculty Patrica Aufiero Principal, Berkley Street Elementary School