WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Board of Education laid out a few district goals for the 2013-2014 school year Monday night at its meeting at the high school.
Those goals included the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, improved test scores, enhancing security measures and implementing new school schedules at the middle and high school levels.
Principal of Gregory School Michelle Thompson spoke about a grant that her school received from Briston-Myers Squibb to enhance professional development for the kindergarten teachers. Only seven grants were given out to schools in Essex and Bergen County.
The program will bring in Anna Mazzaro of Professional Resources in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) who will work with the teachers as well as act as a model for them. Mazzaro will work directly with the teachers in the classroom and provide insight and feedback in order to reach their goal.
Additional training will be available after school and at Montclair State University as part of the program. Thompson is also optimistic about a possible "Parent Night" later in the year where parents will be able to come in and engage in a video conference with a representative of PRISM in Panama.
Thompson was not the only one to present good news at the meeting, as ESL teacher Mary Quiroz was recognized for receiving a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Award.
Quiroz applied for the grant with an idea for an action research project that would mutually benefit the United States and a host country, which in her case was Argentina.
The award allowed for Quiroz to live and study life in Argentina for three months and attend a University of her choice. She would then carry out her six-week project at three different elementary schools and see many improvements in language and content goals as well as test scores.
Quiroz is making her debut at West Orange High School this year after working for several years at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.
Interim Superintendent James O'Neill commented briefly on complaints made by two West Orange residents saying that the comments held little substance. One complaint regarded the new scheduling at Roosevelt and Liberty Middle School which resulted in the elimination of "Reading" as a separate and distinct subject.
O'Neill said that "Reading" being offered as a separate subject has not moved the district's test scores forward in five to ten years, and by continuing that schedule without revision would be detrimental and unethical.
A team of WOHS faculty worked on a new schedule for the past two years and is seeing positive feedback on their addition of 11 minutes in the classroom and 53 minutes of lunch so that students can have time to eat, do homework and take part in extra activities.
West Orange High School is also participating in a contest to celebrate National Teen Driver Safety Week from Oct. 18-26. The contest, which includes prizes from a Kelly Clarkson concert to a $25,000 grant, is sponsored by State Farm Insurance Company and encourages teens to drive safely.
In order to win the contest, students will be logging onto www.celebratemydrive.com during the week and voting for their school once per day. You do not have to be a West Orange resident to support the school.
"We care about our students, not just academically but socially," WOHS Principal Hayden Moore said. "And we want to make them aware of what's safe and what they’re about to embark on in terms of the global market."
Moore also revealed a new logo at the meaning which combined different elements and history of WOHS. The educational logo, in the form of a shield, promotes unity, integrity, pride and academic excellence. Also promoting spirit at WOHS is Monty the Mountaineer, the school's mascot who made an appearance at the meeting.