MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Board of Education set five goals for the district for the 2017-2018 school year, and Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar included an update with the agenda for the April 10 meeting. The district has just completed its third quarter, or “marking period.”

Goal number one was the passage of a referendum to fund construction projects in the district. This was achieved in September and construction work will commence at William Mason, Lazar and the high school this summer.

The second goal was examining a possible later start time at the high school. The committee presented its results at the meeting and their findings can be read here: Later Start Time. However, no plan or timeline for acting on or deciding on the results of the presentation were part of the goals, nor were they discussed at the April 10 meeting.

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The third goal involved developing a mindfulness implementation plan. For several years the district has been working with the Youth Empowerment Alliance to make changes to the district’s climate and culture. Through survey research, it has come out that stress is a problem with students.

According to the goals update page, the administrative team attended a two-day mindfulness work shop late in August of 2017, which they were so enthusiastic about that they incorporated mindfulness activities into the Oct. 9, 2017 staff in-service day. They then assembled a mindfulness committee which held its first meeting on Oct. 30, 2017.

The committee reviewed the survey research, and identified the following stress triggers, among others:

  • academic pressure (tests, homework, etc.);
  • stress related to the college application and admissions process;
  • anxiety from social media involvement; and,
  • challenges resulting from scheduling/participation in multiple activities and sports.

As a result, a Mindfulness Resource Team will be assembled in each school and the members will be trained in May. Psychotherapist John Grund will be presenting to faculty and staff as part of the district’s professional development in late August. More information will be going out to parents in the May district newsletter.

To read more about the district’s partnership, click: YEA

The fourth goal involved implementing a new gifted and talented program for the district for grades kindergarten through eight. In November, several teachers and Supervisor of Elementary Education Elise Miller attended the 2017 Rutgers Gifted Education Conference. The gifted and talented program and curriculum has been finalized, and according to the goals update page, “the district’s approach to G&T education involves cluster grouping of the identified students.” A parent presentation about the program was held in January at Hilldale Elementary, along with presentations at PTA meetings. An evaluation of the program is scheduled for June.

The final goal was to “develop a plan to increase math achievement and decrease the number of students scoring in the Approached Expectations band on the PARCC Assessment by 10% in grades 6 through 12.”

Supervisor of Mathematics, Science, and Business Sandra Schwartz began to work on this initiative in the summer, according to the goals update page, analyzing data and developing an action plan.

“Teachers have met in small groups, based on the grade level or subject they teach, to discuss changes in instructional practices,” according to the goals update. “They have also had professional development meetings where topics such as guided math, using student-choice, and differentiation in the math class have been discussed. Dr. Schwartz has provided teachers with professional development on the Standards of Mathematical Practices, how to incorporate them into their instruction and how they can be assessed. Teachers are exposing all students, including special education students, to more PARCC-like questions. Dr. Schwartz is pushing down to the elementary level to support teachers, as they begin to use guided math and more differentiation in their math classes. The rationale for this is that students must be proficient in all the elementary math standards if they are to find success in middle school math.”

Data-driven instruction continues, according to Rovtar, as teachers are using interactive programs like i-Ready and ALEKS to “assess students and determine the most effective path of instruction,” since the programs are “diagnostic, adaptive, and online.” Teachers are using guided math, stations, differentiation, small group, and/or one-to-one instruction strategies, according to Rovtar. Schwartz is continuing professional development to teachers, and reviewing Imagine Learning, an online learning tool to help students whose math skills are well below grade level, according to the goals page.

Retirement

Also at the meeting, Rovtar announced the retirement of long-time Cedar Hill Elementary School kindergarten teacher Cathy Lundquist. Rovtar called Lundquist a “treasure,” and said she is “very special.” She said the district has earned a lot of recognition in the area of character education and called Lundquist the “foundation of a lot of that work at Cedar Hill Elementary and district-wide.” Rovtar said Lundquist will continue to volunteer within the school and Rovtar is “very thankful for that,” and wished her well in her retirement.

Lundquist is the advisor for the school’s environmental club, “Tools for Schools for Kids.” She was honored by the Montville Township Environmental Commission in 2015 with the Arbor Day Award.

Board Member Karen Cortellino said she couldn’t express enough gratitude to Lundquist for the positive influence and impact on her children and family and all the children whose lives Lundquist has touched over the past 39 years in Montville Township. Cortellino said she was saddened by the news but happy that Lundquist would have more time to spend with her family.

Board President Charles Grau agreed with Cortellino, and said Lundquist had gone “above and beyond for our kids.”

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