Community Service on the Rise in Berkeley Heights Schools

Today, there are over 130 InterAct Club members; it's the largest student organization at GLHS. Pictured: Students making 800 sandwiches to donate to the homeless. Credits: Bobbie Peer

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - At the Thursday, January 6 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent Scott McKinney reported that there is overwhelming participation in community service in our schools. 

"We looked at the things that are happening in the classroom, we have an overwhelming participation from Mary Kay McMillin all the way through the high school," said McKinney. "We have staff members that are heavily involved and modeling caring and participation and social awareness.... The teachers are side by side with the students as they participate in so many of these areas."

The presentation identified that encouraging students to become active volunteers not only promotes personal growth and self-esteem, teaching students the value of community service also provides the following benefits: 

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  • improves health and reduces stress
  • builds students who are better problem solvers
  • strengthens and develops pride in one's community
  • helps students develop connections with people of different backgrounds
  • increases social awareness and social responsibility
  • most importantly, volunteering helps others improve their lives

Students have gone on to lead and create their own charities, said McKinney. "We take care of our own here. So many of our initiatives and programs have taken care of our own and take care of the people we live with."  

"I am proud to say how engaged our students are in giving back to the community. You can't help but be impressed with what our students are doing on a daily basis," he said.  

Examples of Community Service Projects in the district include: UNICEF, Food Drives, Mitten Tree, Pajama Project, Backpacks for Life, Cancer Stinks, American Cancer Society, St. Hubert's Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude, Children's Specialized Hospital, Relay for Life, St. Baldrick's, Operation We Remember, Valentines for Vets, Operation Shoebox, Special Olympics, Rescue Squad Volunteer, Church School Volunteer, Chinese School Volunteer, Police Youth Academy, PAL Volunteer Coach, Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts Community Projects, Sports Equipment Rescue and TAPinto Reporter and Photo Journalism Interns.  

In the absence of Superintendent Judy Rattner, McKinney also provided the Superintendent's report that included:

  • The Berkeley Heights school district qualified for an equivalency waiver from the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) accountability standards due to the district's designation as a high performing district.  
  • The district received three grants: 1) from Investors Bank to recognize Outstanding Educators, which will enable two teachers to attend a professional conference, 2) from ExxonMobil Education Alliance for CMS Robotics and TWIST, and 3) from NJ DOE STEM Partnership for science classes at MKM.

Next meeting will be Thursday, January 19 at 8 p.m. at the Columbia Middle School Multi-purpose room. Presentations will include an update on the progress on Strategic Plan and a presentation about the Physical Education program at Gov. Livingston.

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