LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston Public Schools opened officially on Tuesday, but long before the first bells ring, teachers and staff were hard at work as lifelong learners, organizing classrooms, papering walls with welcoming messages. Schools shine as custodians deep clean entire schools, waxing floors and pushing brooms.

In a team effort to prepare the schools for in time for student arrival, new faculty took part in an orientation that eclipsed their expectations, according to the district.

The new school year for about 850 teachers and staff began on Wednesday, Aug. 30 with a convocation by Superintendent Christina Steffner and three days of professional development. A special program was organized to make new teachers feel welcome and provided all the practical things they need to know to be successful. They met teacher-mentors and the principals who will offer support throughout the year.

Sign Up for E-News

On day one for these new teachers, Monday, Aug. 21, the support was easy: Administrators handed out the protective glasses needed to safely watch the solar eclipse. Then together, they stepped outside for communal stargazing.  

Looking ahead to this school year, Superintendent Steffner said administrators have finalized and adopted a strategic map to continue a legacy of excellence. They are developing strategies around 1:1 computing and using technology in meaningful ways. The district will pilot new class schedules at Heritage Middle School and a STEAM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering/Design, Arts, Mathematics) program for Grades K-6.

“Schools are working to infuse mindfulness at all levels and creating a challenging and nurturing environment for every student,” said Steffner.

Helping students achieve academically is a goal, Steffner said. But in her convocation the superintendent reminded educators, it is equally as important to provide students a supportive and safe place in this time of global uncertainties.

“While it is a huge task, I cannot think of a better group of people to manage that,” said Steffner.

Teacher assignments and schedules are posted in the Genesis Parent Access, the online technology the Livingston school district uses to share student information, report cards and attendance. Parents are reminded to update contact information and complete electronic forms.

In the middle schools and high school, teachers and students will transition to Schoology, a learning management system, to communicate online. Replacing the district teacher webpages, Schoology will provide a central place to find course information, including assignments and materials. Genesis will remain as the official grade book and the primary resource for reviewing grades.

Back-to-school night, an annual ritual marking the beginning of the new school year, have been scheduled at each of the schools as follows:

Wednesday, Sept. 13: Heritage*

Thursday, Sept. 14: LHS*

Tuesday, Sept. 19: Mt. Pleasant Elementary

Tuesday, Sept. 26: Burnet Hill

Wednesday, Sept. 27: Hillside

Wednesday, Sept. 27: Riker Hill

Thursday, Sept. 28: Collins

Thursday, Sept. 28: Harrison

Wednesday, Oct. 4: Mt. Pleasant Middle 

It should also be noted that parent training on 1:1 devices will take place prior to back-to-school nights at Heritage and Livingston High School.

Pictured above:

Marybeth Kopacz, the new Director of Curriculum & Instruction - Humanities, led professional development on teaching, learning and literacy. She is shown with Christine Cemelli, Heritage gifted & talented/enrichment teacher.

Schools shine thanks o the efforts of the district’s custodian staff, including Denis Zaimaj and Edwin Tomlinson at Heritage.

Teacher Lauren Van Laar decorates a bulletin board with a bright message at Collins Elementary School in preparation for the Sept. 5 opening.

Marilyn Joyce Lehren is the manager of communications/community outreach for Livingston Public Schools.