Dear Nutley Parents, Staff and Community,
It is hard to believe that this school year comes to a close today. It has been quite a year: rewarding, exciting and challenging. Our students learned and developed throughout the year, guided by our dedicated and talented staff.
Nutley High School implemented the Rotating Drop Schedule this September, offering students more opportunities and a common lunch period. Students were able to take new electives like Creative Writing, Journalism and Marketing courses. Students enjoyed more time at lunch to participate in clubs, see teachers for extra help and collaborate with peers.
Elementary and middle school students in grades four through eight were able to participate in the TREP$ Entrepreneurship Program, sponsored by the NEF and Windheim Plumbing. Students worked with project-based learning to create businesses of their own, market them and sell products. It was a perfect way to partner advanced business concepts with student creativity.
The district also piloted bringing the sixth grade into the middle school teaming model. We are looking forward to expanding the pilot next school year. This year, we also implemented a new English/Language Arts curriculum in grades K-12 and provided early elementary struggling readers with an intervention program for extra support. Math and World Languages reported on their Program Review process and the Extended Day Program was also reviewed, with changes recommended for September.
I am also excited about all the good things to come in the 2018-2019 school year. We are introducing an early literacy initiative, focused on phonemic awareness, phonics/word study, reading fluency, and vocabulary, and expanding the 1:1 Chromebook initiative throughout the district. Science and Physical Education/Health will begin the Program Review process in the fall.
This spring, the district also embarked on the beginning stages of the next five-year strategic plan. Based on the responses from the community survey this March, the district administration and community representatives created five new focus areas for the strategic plan: Communications/Engagement; Student Health/Wellness; Curriculum/Programs; Safety/Security; and Configuration/Infrastructure. We just completed our last community focus group on these topics and will review all ideas generated to develop an action plan. Thank you to all those who participated.
During the winter, Nutley, along with many other school districts throughout the country, faced a security threat. While, certainly a challenging time for the community, I am so grateful for our partnership with the Nutley Police and Fire Departments. I am thankful for all those who saw something and said something and I hopeful that we can continue to move forward, as a community, to provide a safe and secure environment for all our students and staff.
As we head into the summer, I want to provide a brief update on some security elements. As a district, we have continued to review and implement best practices. This has led to significant changes in building access and use, a review of policies and procedures, and consideration of products, services, and funding for safety and security. We have completed a number of recommended changes including securing the entrance at Yantacaw School, adding and upgrading speakers in bathrooms and stairwells, and turning volume up where needed, providing radios in the trailers, adding locking devices in all schools, updating signage, and building perimeter upgrades. Additionally, a number of safety and security projects are in progress such as a secure entrance for JHWMS, exterior lighting, and key fobs for immediate police and fire access. A timeline for completion of a list of projects has also been set, including deadlines for end of July 2018 and September 2018. In conjunction with our measures already in place, we are hopeful that our due diligence inspires confidence as we continue to identify what we are doing well, those things that may need improvement, and recommendations to enhance the overall level of protection at each of our buildings.
I look forward to the community coming together again as we continue to face overcrowding issues and aging facilities at many of our district schools. The outlook for larger class sizes, due to lack of instructional space, remains the same. Our extraordinary staff is creative and innovative and is doing more with less, allowing us to continue to provide the students of Nutley with an exemplary education.
With the summer finally upon us, I am hopeful you will take time to relax and recharge, spend time with family and friends and take advantage of the outdoors and warm weather. Among your other activities, please also review the Summer Reading Lists for all K-12 students posted on our website here.
Students will be welcomed back to the district on Wednesday, September 5 for a single session day.
I wish everyone a wonderful summer!
Dr. Julie Glazer