RANDOLPH,NJ- Randolph's district elementary principals, vice principals, director of Special Services and K-5 supervisor joined the Board of Education on Tuesday, Feb. 11 to present the elementary schools' accomplishments and school goals.
"As the elementary school administration we strongly believe that education is a personal growth experience for all members of the learning community," said Ironia Elementary Principal Lee Nittel.
The goal of the administrations program is to create independent, productive and responsible 21st century learners that are well prepared for middle school, high school, college and eventually life as successful adults.
"We regularly collaborate to make certain that all our Randolph students regardless of what school they attend have a similar learning experiences," Nittel said.
Goal one, Student Focused Culture, concentrates on strengthening relationships. Fernbrook Elementary Principal, Lisa Gross, reported that Teachers are sharing resources and best practices on a consistent basis.
Student relationships are being strengthened with whole school meetings led by students. Each school also holds a week of respect to continue character building. They also implemented peer program tutoring called Learning Together, which promotes student- teacher relationships.
To strengthen parental relationships the schools are keeping families involved with newsletters, twitter, blogs and a district reading workshop is being offered on Feb. 24, where parents have an opportunity for discussion.
"At Fernbrook School we know how important it is for our students to be able to make a personal connection," Gross said.
Fernbrook created a program called Team Club that has teachers mentor and further educate students. Students work together on team building activities, and build confidence in academic and social settings, to help with homework and practice communication skills.
At Centergrove, a student from each class is highlighted as the student of the month. Shongum, started a whole school initiative called Bucket Filling, which encourages kindness and appreciation towards one another. Ironia established Girls On the Run, which combines the activity of running and focuses on healthy living choices, building self esteem, and conflict resolution.
Another program, Helping Hands, is a mentoring life partnership for elementary and middle school children who have difficulties integrating into social situations. Helping Hands includes high school students who are trained to work with younger children.
Goal two, Data Driven Instruction, observes the staff and their ability to use the system in a measurable way. Fernbrook and Shongum Vice Principal, Kristen Mueller, explained "By making instruction purposeful and intentional the students will succeed."
Across the board the elementary schools established PLC (Professional Learning Community). PLC allows teachers to look at the data that they're receiving from their students and review some of the best instructional strategies that are based on common core standards. They use data from students pre and post test to help guide the instruction.
"An added benefit is that students are getting something that they need instead of having to learn something that they already know, Mueller said.
PLC also promotes SGO (Student Growth Objectives), a given by the state that aligns with goal number two. It requires pre-assessment as well as post-assessment, continual observation and approval from administration. It has shown that students are growing.
"It's just amazing data that we have observed," said Center Grove Principal, Mario Rodas. "Teachers have made the statements that we have never looked at student data in such a way as we do now." Student Growth Objectives have led to a more productive classroom environment.
K-5 Supervisor, Danielle Soldivieri spoke about goal three, Relevance and Student Engagement.
"Relevant learning is interdisciplinary and also conceptual," said Soldivieri, "It requires students to apply core knowledge, concept and skills to solve real world problems. Across our elementary schools there are two district wide initiatives that truly stand out and represent goal board number three, relevance."
The first district initiative is LATI (Learner Active Technology Infused classroom). The first co-board of LATI teachers are fifth grade teachers from across the district. These teachers spent a year perfecting their teaching skills by learning about the best methods and practices and providing authentic learning opportunities for students in classrooms.
The second district initiative is the application of the third grade social studies units through a problem base learning approach, which is very similar to the LATI initiative. Third grade social studies teachers across the district have revamped the curriculum presenting content to students in very relevant ways where they solve real world problems.
Shongum Pricipal, Clifford Burns, talked about the programs each school had to help prepare the next 21 century generation. Among the programs was STEAM. This program applies critical thinking skills using science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the arts to create unique solutions to real world problems. Each grade level works in a collaborative way on problems such as world hunger, protecting the Jersey shore from hurricanes and rebuilding the Seaside boardwalk.
"Our efforts are certainly inclusive of all students," said Director of Special Services, Danielle Hamblin."We need to make sure that we're providing the necessary support so that all students can be successful."
All programs are in place to support all the schools students. Few of the programs are across the board at all four schools, and others are individualized and unique to a particular school because of individual needs.
"We are a community of educators and we're working collaboratively for the future of all of our kids, said Ironia Vice Principal, Cindy Mizelle. "We're very proud of everything that we're doing in our schools and we invite any of you to come on in and see some of our programs."
Board of Education President Tammy Mackay expressed thanks to all of the elementary staff at the end of the meeting. Mackay said how appreciative the board is of everything that they have done and continue to do for Randolph schools.