Education

Piscataway School District Wins Magna Award for ‘You, I, We, Inspire’ Program

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‘You, I, We, Inspire’ banner outside of main entrance to Grandview Elementary School (File Photo) Credits: Kenneth Simmons
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PISCATAWAY, NJ – The National School Board Association (NSBA) recently announced three grand prize winners for its annual Magna Awards, which recognize innovative school district programs supported by board governance. Piscataway Townships Schools was named Grand Prize Winner for districts in the 5,000–20,000 student enrollment category.

Piscataway was recognized for its You, I, We Inspire program that unites the entire school community behind a culture of inspiration and pursuit of academic excellence.

“Creativity and innovation are needed to help students realize their full potential,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “The Magna Award-winning districts are prime examples of how public schools all over the country are working to give students a high-quality education and life.”

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You, I, We, Inspire was born from the Piscataway Board of Education’s own pursuit for inspiration through their Saturday Book Club. Delving into books such as Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, The Pedagogy of Confidence by Yvette Jackson, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, the Board discussed ways to offer leadership that inspires staff to look at teaching and learning differently. They set a goal to inspire staff to inspire students, leading to students inspiring each other to both work to their highest potential and to show each other continuous kindness and support.

“The board made it clear we wanted the culture of inspiration and left it up to each school to best pursue the goal,” said Teresa Rafferty, the school district’s superintendent. “They were free to try new things, (although) not everything will work. They have our support in both successes and failures, and failures pave the way to success.”

The district encouraged teachers and administrators to go beyond traditional school experiences and explore partnerships with other educational institutions and business entities. The Piscataway Education Foundation supported the efforts by offering teacher “Inspire Grants” for creative and non-traditional teaching methods.

Now in its third year, the You, I, We, Inspire program and its K-12 character education components are accessible to all Piscataway schools through a district-wide Character Education Toolbox.

Piscataway Township School District will be honored at the March 25th NSBA School Leaders Luncheon in Denver, CO and will also receive a $5000 contribution from Sodexo.

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