NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – As the Board of Education (BOE) is in the midst of contract negotiations with teachers, several current and past students came forward in support of the teachers at the Thursday, June 28 BOE meeting.

Two rising senior students touted the hard working teachers for providing students with an excellent education and for being available both before and after school hours thus enabling students to reach their fullest potential. New Providence would not be such a successful school district without the faculty, a student said. The teachers are passionate about teaching and truly care about their students, they said. The teachers shaped me as an individual and help me to find the best version of myself, one of the students said. They urged the BOE to make “the right decision” and “give back” to the teachers who give so much to their students.

Another student read a letter from a recent graduate of New Providence High School, currently a computer science student at the University of Southern California. In his letter the student credits his achievements to his family and his teachers. The student compared his experience in the high school to that of his college peers who did not “retain” anything from their high school studies. “I loved high school,” he said in the letter as his experience in New Providence was the exact opposite of his peers. The teachers in New Providence build relationships with their students, he said pointing out that teachers made him feel that he had a purpose. There are many teachers in New Providence that go over and above for their students, he stated.

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Another former New Providence high school student, now a college graduate, gave an emotional plea on behalf of the teachers who she attributed as the reason for her academic and personal success after high school. She spoke about the teachers from the perspective of generation Z which is not standing on the sidelines but actively taking part in societal issues.

President of the board Adam Smith stated that the board has a policy of not commenting on ongoing negotiations. “Rest assured that the board understands how important teachers are to the operations of this district”, he said. He added that the board is working very hard on reaching a fair agreement for all.

In regards to other news, Jay Richter, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision, explained that the district will offer Algebra I as a title I program in July for those 37 rising sophomore students who did not pass the PARCC Algebra I test that is a requirement for the class of 2021. The two-week program starts on July 16 and consists of small group and individual lessons.

Additionally, James Vopal, a teacher at the Salt Brook School, urged the board to again to hire more counselors in order to meet the students’ mental wellness needs. Vopal first appeared at the May 24 BOE meeting to call attention to the mental well-being of students. He explained that since the article regarding his statement appeared in TAPinto he has received multiple emails from community members supporting his call for more counselors. It is obvious that this is something that touches a lot of people on different levels, he said. He asked the board to consider future generations and hire at least one more counselor for the next school year.