Chuck Klaus, Superintendent of Schools
The first and most exciting aspect of the summer of 2022 was how different it has been from the last two! In the summers of ’20 and ’21, there was a singular focus; almost all of our energy went into planning and developing schedules and systems to deal with COVID. We continued to push forward with our work as educators, but that overwhelming cloud drove decision-making and consumed much time and effort.
This summer has been very different.
The administrative team developed a new format for summer leadership work. The core team attended the AASA conference in Washington, D.C., followed by a more expansive two-day retreat. The conference was excellent! The most significant advantage of the model for this retreat was gaining access to nationally renowned experts in different areas.
One afternoon was spent with Dr. Shelley Berman, who helped us to re-examine our approach to social-emotional learning. We also spent time with Dr. Anthony (A.J.) Nottingham, who helped us to focus on leadership styles and growth. These discussions helped us to stop and think about who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.
Upon our return, we met every Wednesday afternoon throughout the summer to address specific topics and to collaborate. Breaking up our work sessions into several shorter meetings has been more productive and has made better use of our time.
There’s been a significant amount of curriculum work done over the summer. Teachers have been writing and revising curricula that will eventually be submitted for Board approval.
The three areas that have stood out with greater focus are math, ELA, and PE/Health.
- Math: For K to 5, the team is starting the research and planning for a pilot that will be put in place next year. The 6-12 training has been arranged with Desmos and Dr. Eric Milou from Rowan University. The training will focus on instructional methods (rather than simply on the programs) and will benefit students immensely.
- English Language Arts (ELA) work is in an organizational phase. We will be soliciting community input during the school year.
- Health and PE teachers have been working diligently on an updated curriculum. Parents may review the state standards, current curricular maps, and DRAFTS of updates on the Health and PE Curriculum Development website.
Another significant summer project has been preparing for the upcoming bond referendum. Board Secretary Michael Catalano and I have met with LAN Associates and have closed out the survey that was sent to all members of the school district family and to the community at large. Once the survey data is fully analyzed, we will start to plan charrettes to discuss specific needs, suggestions and concerns. Some of the questions raised in the survey are:
- Hopkins parcel: How to use this land and how to deal with the historic building?
- Elementary schools: Can we separate eating and physical education spaces?
- High School: How to create a new secure vestibule?
- General: How can we improve our learning spaces?
- Athletics: How to increase/improve our athletic fields?
Here is a link to the LRFP (Long-Range Facilities Plan) website.
Our Buildings and Grounds crew has been busy as well. In addition to cleaning and servicing of all of the mechanical equipment in the entire district, our in-house staff replaced aging carpeting with VCT flooring in several locations. Their biggest summer project involved the student/staff paint crew. Two teachers and six students painted all of the hallways in HMHS and Lizzy Haddon! They also painted several classrooms, kitchens and offices throughout the district.
Most recently, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gino Priolo and World Language teacher Chris Gwin redesigned our new teacher orientation, making it more interactive and adding more time for building-based work with administration and mentors. We enjoyed getting to know these newest members of our school district community August 29, 30 and 31!
Friends, I look forward to seeing many of you during the first week of school, September 6-9. Let’s make it a great school year!