MONTCLAIR, NJ – A thorough update by the Department of Equity, Curriculum and Instruction was at the forefront of the Montclair Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, September 4 at the George Inness Annex Atrium.

Interim superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker, who took over the helm on August 19, presided over the meeting on the eve of the 2019-20 school year.

Director of Humanities Marcos Vargas, Director of STEM Jennifer Goforth, Supervisor of World Languages & ESL Frank Sedita, and Athletic Director and Supervisor of Health & Physical Education Dr. Patrick Scarpello presented a full update recently to Parker and the leadership team during an administrative retreat.  Parker was so impressed by the presentation that he felt strongly the information be shared with the board and the public.

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“There are two new offerings in the Humanities Curricula – Hip Hop as Modern Literature and Literature of the Diaspora,” Vargas explained.  “Both courses provide a much-needed alternative for students who wish to explore something outside of the traditional and often Eurocentric English literary canon.  Both courses fully align to NJSLS ELA standards and NJSLA writing sequence.“

Updates to the Science and Math Curricula were outlined by Goforth, including Math Labs for grades 6, 7 and 8.

“Our Math Labs are a tri-fold focus on targeted skills and standards that need to be covered to support middle school math,” said Goforth.

The World Language and ESL Program has many updates, including MPS World Language Instructional Framework, NJDOE World Language Model Program, and AVANT STAMP testing for grades 8 and 12.

“We are really proud that last year, 43 students received the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish, French and Bulgarian,” Sedita said.  “This year we hope to expand to five languages.”

Among the updates to the Health and Physical Education Curricula are Sexuality Stand for grade 9, and First Aid and CPR for grade 11.

Also, the districts first handbook for Dyslexia Screening Procedures has been introduced.

“To determine whether or not the academic difficulty a student is experiencing could be attributed to dyslexia or related disorders, Montclair Schools will employ five phases,” Scarpello said.  “The phases are universal screening and data review, preventive and response to intervention, progress monitoring, dyslexia screening, and comprehensive evaluation.”

During his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Parker offered a welcome message to all teachers, staff and students who are returning to school this week, and to those families new to the district.

“I think you will find that the Montclair Public Schools deserves its reputation as a revered district with a long history of valuing and providing the most rigorous instruction to a diverse population,” said Dr. Parker.  “I spent my first 15 days here in Montclair trying to learn as much about the schools as possible about.  In this short time, I have met dozens of staff, parents, community members and a few students, and I look forward to meeting more parents and students along the way.”

With Parker being the fifth superintendent in as many years, he is aware of the challenges that lay ahead during the new school year.

“It’s unsettling and distracting, and the number of internal changes in personnel must be dizzying,” Parker said in reference to the BOE leadership changes.  “But in 15 days, I’ve met with all the principals, the mayor, the police chief and our board members to get a better insight into the operation of such a complex and interesting environment.”

Attending the meeting in addition to Parker were Board President Eve Robinson, Vice President Latifah Jannah, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Emidio D’Andrea, Priscilla Church, Anne Mernin, Alfred Davis and Jessica de Koninck.

The next public meeting of the board is Monday, September 23, 5:30 pm in the George Inness Annex Atrium.  The meeting will go into closed session until approximately 7:30 pm when it will re-open to the public.