MONTVILLE, NJ – Character -- as defined by the reflections, recollections and viewpoints of more than 130 student authors – is the theme of the publication of “A Road Map for Respect, Kindness, Gratitude, Grit, Courage and Resilience: Words of Wisdom from Montville Township Public Schools Students and the Superintendent.”
The book, which has sold nearly 200 copies since May, 2019, features authors from kindergarten through grade 12. It is available for $5 on Amazon.com.
Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René T. Rovtar edited and published “A Road Map for Respect, Kindness, Gratitude, Grit, Courage and Resilience.”
Throughout the summer, interviews with some of the student authors who attended the book’s launch on May 28 at the Montville Township High School Media Center, have been featured on the district’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. The publication has been tagged as #AGreatSummerRead on the Montville Township Public Schools’ social media platforms.
“I have always enjoyed writing and think that it is a very powerful experience to see your words in print,” Rovtar said when asked what inspired her to launch the project throughout the district of 3,600 students. “Having attained the honor of being a National District of Character in 2018 made me think about ways that we could share some positive thoughts on the attributes of good character. The book project was a perfect vehicle for this.”
Montville Township Public Schools received the National District of Character Award at the 2018 Charater.org National Forum in October. By January, 2019, Rovtar had launched the concept of the book initiative; inviting all students in the pre-K to grade 12 district to submit an article, story or essay for publication.
“My disability has not left me weaker in any way that truly matters in life,” wrote Class of 2019 author Adam Foye in his article on Grit. “I have instead taken advantage of the immensely empowering qualities I have gained from conquering my challenges.”
Foye will be a freshman at Ramapo College of New Jersey in fall 2019.
“It is not the end of the world when you make a mistake,” author Shreya Kiran wrote. “Because you can try and try so you will understand the mistake you made.”
The Woodmont Elementary Student penned her words of wisdom about Resilience while in second grade. Kiran will enter third grade in September.
Montville Township Public Schools is dedicated to embracing character education across the district. In addition to the National District of Character designation awarded by Character.org in 2018, four of the district’s seven schools have also been named National Schools of Character, including: Robert R. Lazar Middle School in 2018, Cedar Hill Elementary School and Woodmont Elementary School in 2016 and William Mason Elementary School, which will receive the National School of Character Award in October of 2019.
“The district has been focused on character education for a long time,” Rovtar noted. “I was surprised that so many students chose to contribute their writing. It was wonderful for me to have the opportunity to hear from students in all seven schools and to see the importance that these character attributes had in their lives.”
Students could submit their work to the publication independently or through their teachers. Some teachers assigned writing topics appropriate for the publication and students could choose to submit if they liked the work they had done for the assignment.
In addition, three Woodmont Elementary teachers, Jane Mancuso, Cherylyn Torrisi and Carolyn Wyks, encouraged students to work cooperatively to write articles to be submitted to the book.
The result is a collection of quick reads and moving missives of kindness that inspire.
“When you doubt yourself you lose an important part of you,” Suzie Elkhouri wrote when addressing the topic of Perseverance.
At the time of publication she was a fifth grade student at Valley View Elementary School. This fall the published author will begin sixth grade at Robert R. Lazar Middle School.
Elkhouri’s approach to the subject helps others learn ways to set attainable goals and encourages the use of the “Positive Power of Yet.”
“There is something about that word [yet],” she wrote. “It tells you that if you haven’t accomplished your goal, you will in time.”
According to Rovtar, any funds that are raised through the sale of the book “will likely be used as miscellaneous revenue to support general district operations.” All proceeds are allocated to the district.
In order to make the book accessible to as many families and individuals as possible, the cost of the district publication has been kept low. With a $5 price tag, profits amount to less than $1 per book.
“With the launch of the new district website and our new learning management system, Schoology, I am not sure that there is time for a book during the 2019-2020 school year,” Rovtar said.
Rovtar hopes to publish a district book again during the 2020-2021 academic year.
“For me,” Rovtar added, “the most significant outcome was the enthusiasm of the students for writing. It’s such a critical skill and it was a great way for the students to put those skills to work to convey their personal thoughts on such important and timely topics. I absolutely loved seeing the students enjoy the experience of being authors at the book signing. They were so proud of their work and had the opportunity to give autographs – such fun!”
Video glimpses of that pride and fun can be seen at Montville Township Public Schools’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.