Editor's Note: This is the first of a 2-part article.

FAIR LAWN, NJ — The Board of Education approved five district goals established by the administration ahead of the 2019-2020 school year, the start of which will be on Monday, Sept. 9 for all students.

The vote, Aug. 8, passed 8-1 with trustee Wilkin Santana opposed.

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During the Aug. 22 board meeting, Superintendent Nick Norcia elucidated the five goals which center on improving health and wellness, and fostering the skills students need for 21st Century learning.

The first one addresses Future Ready Status. Assistant Superintendent Camille DeFranco will oversee the completion of this goal, which will be continued from last year as part of the district’s strategic five-year plan. The Fair Lawn Board of Education took the In November 2018, the Fair Lawn district took the Future Ready Pledge to attain Future Ready status. According to the Future Ready Schools website, districts are supplied with tools and resources to engage students in “rigorous, student-centered learning environments” with technology as the driving force.

“We are going to ensure that our students in schools are ready for the 21st Century,” Norcia said. “All district schools will continue to include practices and compile required evidence to apply for Future Ready certification by June 30, 2020.”

All 10 schools will have taken the pledge, and all current programs will be assessed in a similar process as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum, which labeled Fair Lawn a “high performing district” this past summer.  

For its second goal, the Fair Lawn Board of Education will continue its district-wide focus on mental health, with social-emotional learning. This upcoming year, the administration will expand practices that support mindfulness learning throughout its schools. 

Mindfulness for children involves the learning of skills to develop awareness of inner and external experiences to grasp how their emotions present in their bodies and how to restore their attention on where it should be. The practice ultimately brings peace of mind and a sense of control over their emotions. 

‘There’s going to be a big push and emphasis from day one with professional development and into the classroom all school year on mindfulness,” Norcia said.

For the board’s third goal, the Fair Lawn school district will reassess its current Intervention and Referral Services to ensure best practices, forms, and procedures are consistent in all schools. 

These services will cater to a student struggling either academically, socially or behaviorally (i.e. a student with attendance issues). The student is referred by either a parent or teacher and a multidisciplinary team comprised of various professionals including a school nurse and special education teacher who will create a specialized plan to work the child through their particular issue. 

The fourth goal is to implement a 1:1 initiative at Fair Lawn High School that will commence during the school year. The initiative, according to Norcia, involves more personalized learning opportunities for students regardless of their post-secondary plans, but goes beyond supplying staff and ninth and tenth grade students with laptop computers.

“It’s not just about rolling out 1:1 devices to our staff the first day and to our ninth and tenth graders in January,” he said. “It’s really more about also looking at whats next 11th and 12th grade, middle school, elementary schools… “in addition you also see key words like personalized learning and post secondary plans.”

The second part of the article will run tomorrow, Aug. 28.