BARNEGAT, NJ – Athletic coaches use their experience and knowledge to improve team performance. In Barnegat, a whole new breed of coaches enters the school district next September. One could easily say their focus is purely academic.
In making a case for a grade banding model, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis stressed the need for collaboration among faculty and staff. Latwis and his administrative team said this would be best accomplished once schools were divided by grade levels. The plan called for lateral moves – transforming some teachers to RTI Data Coaches.
Barnegat already had two academic coaches in place, and a host of others start in new positions next school year. The RTI Data Coaches are charged with reviewing relevant data and lending a hand in providing effective and strategic instructional guidance. Notably, the positions are not supervisory.
At the last Board of Education meeting, board members passed the approval of the new RTI Data Coaches and appointment of two Special Education Master Teachers. Notably, the vote was 6-3, with dissenting votes cast by Sean O’Brien, Richard Quelch, and Robert Sawicki.
“We absolutely support the teachers,” said O’Brien, who ran for the Board of Education with Quelch and Sawicki. “That’s not the issue.”
According to O’Brien, the three that ran under the slogan “A New Voice for Barnegat,” had another objection. Their issue was one of transparency as it related to this issue and others brought up at the last board meeting. O’Brien contends they should have been notified of meetings and their agendas when they took place.
The newly approved RTI Data Coaches have all been delegated specific grade levels. Nora Green has taught for 19 years and is assigned to grades K-2. Green’s classroom experience has included both special education and general education classes from first to eighth grade. Additionally, Green has worked in Early Intervention for first graders and taught ELA/SS to fifth graders.
Green is a Professional Development Academy Instructor, holds a Master of Science in Special Education, and a Post-Masters certificate in Curriculum Supervision with graduate-level courses in RTI. In 2019, Green was the “Superintendent Inspires” award winner. WOBM selected Green as the “Teacher that Rocks” in 2018.
Students and teachers of grades 3-4 will have the benefit of Cindy Gallagher’s thirty years of experience next September. Gallagher has consistently taught both the second and fourth grades. She has graduate courses in Reading Specialization and is in the process of becoming Orton Guillingham certified. In 2019, Gallagher received recognition as the Teacher of the Year.
Sarah O’Neill recently shared some insight into her life as a teacher during the COVID-19 quarantine. Assigned to fifth and sixth grade classes and their teachers, O’Neill comes with twenty years of experience. Her classroom experience includes Kindergarten, 1st, BSI for 3-5, regular fifth grade, as well as departmentalized 5th grade Math/Science.
O’Neill has a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, has served on the Governor’s Council for Teaching and Learning, and is a Professional Development Academy Instructor.
In 2019, O’Neill was a winner of the “Superintendent Inspires” award, as well as the Teacher of the Year. She was the Teacher who Rocks in 2016. O’Neill is also a Class Dojo Ambassador, BrainPop certified educator and Level 1 Google Certified.
With six years of teaching experience, Al Ligouri takes on the RTI Data Coach role for seventh and eighth-graders. Ligouri has taught all fifth-grade subjects and sixth grade ELA.
Currently in graduate school for Educational Leadership, Ligouri has also provided school PD, including Genesis, Behavior Management, and Using Questioning Ladders in small group instruction.
Megan D’Arienzo has 11 years of experience teaching students with multiple disabilities. She will work as a Special Education Master Teacher for grades K-12.
Called upon as a mentor teacher for new hires in the MD department, D’Arienzo has experience in data collection, para training, modifying and adjusting plans regularly to meet the needs of the most struggling learners. She is also a Professional Development Academy Instructor.
D’Arienzo was named as the Teacher of the Year in 2017-2018 and was a recipient of the “Superintendent Inspires” award in 2019.
After eighteen years in the teaching profession, Chip Junker also takes on the Special Education Master Teacher position. Junker began teaching Special Education in 2002; however his credentials include teacher of the handicapped, elementary education and K-6 certification.
Junker serves as chairperson high school professional development committee. He is also a School Improvement Panel designee and Professional Development Academy Instructor. Additionally, Junker is a member of the District Evaluation Advisory Committee.