Letters to the Editor

SOMSD Education Summit – Reimagining Public Education Together


By now you have hopefully heard about the Education Summit which will take place on Tuesday, November 10, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Columbia High School. You may be wondering, however, what is an Education Summit, and why should you bother going? Is it just one more meeting where people will talk and talk and nothing will change?

My answer to you is that this Education Summit is not “just another meeting” – it is a unique opportunity to shape our children’s future, and we need to include every voice in our community as we do this critical work.

We want all students to find and develop their own special talents and propensities, to have deeply engaging experiences in school, to be challenged to do their best, and to be supported so they can succeed in college and career. Yet the traditional school model is structured to prepare students for jobs that may not exist or be relevant in the future, and to impart skills that are no longer the ones most valued by today’s employers, much less tomorrow’s. We need to move away from past patterns and outdated approaches to learning and teaching. We need to honor the past, confront the present and embrace the future.

Sign Up for E-News

We know that we have to prepare our students for jobs that haven’t even been created yet, and to succeed in a future that we have yet to imagine.

But what will that look like? And how will we get there?

The Education Summit is an opportunity for us to join forces as a community to reimagine public education and to chart a course for the future of our schools. Tony Wagner, Expert in Residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, says that “innovation… is a team sport.”  Here in South Orange and Maplewood, we have so much talent, so much passion for education, and a strong commitment to doing our very best for our children. Together, we can envision solutions and innovative ideas that fit our values of excellence and access and equity, and that will give our students the skills and experiences they need to be successful.

The ideas and action items shared at the Summit and in subsequent conversations will be used to develop a new Strategic Plan for SOMSD. This Strategic Plan will outline our goals as a District, and include specific objectives (what we want our students to do), and strategies (what the adults are committing to do to help our students achieve the objectives).  Each strategy will have an action plan and a timeline, as well as a built-in quality assurance process, with regular reports on our progress to the Board of Education and to the community.  

Of course, we won’t all agree on everything, and no one will be happy with every part of the plan. Even some of the things we do all agree on may not be immediately achievable due to budget constraints, state or federal mandates, or other considerations. Hopefully, though, we will each see some of our priorities reflected in the final document. This Strategic Plan will be the blueprint for our future, and because we develop it together, it will be the community’s plan.

Active and engaged stakeholders with a broad range of interests have helped us organize the details of the Summit, to make sure that we are making it as easy as possible for everyone to participate, and that we are addressing the most urgent issues in our community. You can find out more about the logistics of the Education Summit here.  

The most important thing, though, is that you join us on November 10, and join the conversation as it continues for 30 days after the Summit. Our Strategic Plan can only reflect the true priorities and vision of our community if all perspectives are represented. We need your voice.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


A Tale of Two Very Different Town Administrator Searches

Both Maplewood and South Orange are looking for new town administrators at the same time, a rare occurrence.

And their approaches couldn’t be any more different.

Maplewood, whose long-time administrator Joseph Manning is retiring May 31, launched its search last month the old-fashioned way: hiring a recruiting firm and letting them do the heavy lifting (or more appropriately the ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Teens Arrested for Theft from Auto

February 20, 2018

February 12 - Theft; A resident from Burroughs Way reported that sometime over the past day, a snow blower was stolen from an open garage.

February 17- Theft from Auto; At approximately 5:15 p.m., two males were observed going through vehicles on Hillcrest Rd.  Officers responded to the area and were able to locate two males fitting the description. The males, 18 year ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Two Arrested for Robbery in South Orange

Adult Arrest - Robbery - Shawn Ray Newsome, a 20 year old Newark resident and a 17 year old juvenile were arrested on Saturday, Feb. 3, at approximately 10:45 p.m. for robbery. Two male victims reported that as they were walking on South Orange Ave near the Newark border, they were approached by three actors (described as black males wearing dark clothing and black masks) who ...

Women's Club of Maplewood Donates $300K to Maplewood Library Foundation Capital Campaign

February 23, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Maplewood Library Foundation's Capital Campaign received $300,000 from the Women's Club of Maplewood on Thursday, the first major gift since the campaign began on Feb. 22, according to a release from the Maplewood Library.

The capital campaign is raising funds to renovate the main Maplewood Library "that will serve the community for generations to ...

Maplewood Chili Cookoff this Sunday Combines Food, Family Fun, and Fundraising for a Good Cause

Update on February 23: All Tasting Passes to the Maplewood Chili Cookoff are sold out. A few more spots are left to submit a chili, which can be done here.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There's a new annual tradition in SOMA: The Maplewood Chili Cookoff. Back at The Woodland for its second year on Sunday, Feb. 25, the cookoff has local residents sharing their best chili ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

Grand Summit Hotel, Summit

The Burlesque Ball

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Other


Sat, February 24, 7:30 PM

Maplewood Middle School Auditorium, Maplewood

Maplewood Middle School Presents Rogers & ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend "Wacky Winter Olympics" Open House

Education Other

School Walkout Efforts Reach West Orange High School

February 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Hundreds of West Orange High School (WOHS) students participated in a peaceful walkout Wednesday afternoon in support of their fellow classmates in South Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people last week.

“They want to see change [in gun control],” said WOHS Principal Hayden Moore, who was present during the impromptu student-organized walkout.

Indictment Handed Down in Millburn Carjacking

TRENTON, NJ – An indictment was handed down in the November carjacking in Millburn where a 13-year old girl was allegedly grabbed by the neck and the suspect threatened to kill her. 

The 11-count state grand jury indictment charges Ahmed Anthony, 30, of Newark with conspiracy, carjacking, robbery and making terroristic threats among other charges. The conspiracy in the first-degree ...

Dunkin Donuts Approved for Abandoned Checkers Location on Rt.22 in Springfield

February 24, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Longtime Springfield residents Mr. and Mrs. Sailesh Patel of Hillside Avenue were approved for a drive through Dunkin Donuts at 30 Route 22 in Springfield. They are doing business as Soni Realty LLC. 

The site currently has an abandoned Checkers' restaurant on the property. Safety was a concern of Board members at the meeting Tuesday night. The meeting ...

Hackensack Resident Charged with Sexual Assualt and Child Endangerment at Hackensack YMCA

HACKENSACK, NJ - Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo announced the arrest of Timothy Smith of Hackensack on six counts each of Sexual Assault by Contact and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The arrest is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office under the direction of Chief Robert Anzilotti, and the Hackensack Police Department under the ...

My Clutter is Taking Over! With Jamie Novak at the Millburn Library

February 24, 2018

The Millburn Free Public Library is pleased to welcome back Jamie Novak to the library to talk about your clutter on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the auditorium.

If you can't open your drawers, if stuff topples out of closets, and you haven't seen the top of your kitchen table in a while then run, don't walk, to this de-cluttering comedy show! Welcome back to ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe - Feb. 23 to March 1

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Alaskan Cod Fillet $9.99lb (Ashley Fish Market)
Chuck for Stew/Stroganoff $6.99lb (Meat)
Thumann’s Deluxe Ham $8.98lb (Deli)
Midnight Moon $18.99lb (Cheese)
Red Globe Grapes $3.49lb
Cavendish Hash Browns 2/$5
Beef Meatloaf $6.99lb (Prep Food)
Polly O Ricotta $5.99 ...

Free Cardiac and Concussion Screenings for Young Athletes

The Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes (MJM) at RWJBarnabas Health will provide free cardiac and concussion baseline screenings to young athletes on Saturday, March 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Mountain Recreation Complex, Codey Arena, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ.

When preliminary testing to identify serious cardiac problems is provided to ...