SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – During her inaugural year as superintendent of South Plainfield Schools, Dr. Noreen Lishak has worked to develop and see the passage of $28 million bond referendum, reinstated the world language program at the elementary level, incorporated STEM in kindergarten through 12th grade, and revamped the broadcasting program to include a new curriculum and studio space at the high school.
“We set some ambitious goals for the past school year regarding our facilities and curriculum. Thankfully, with the support of the community, the referendum, along with our general budget will allow us to address many of the facilities issues,” said Dr. Lishak, adding. “The goals that we had set for the 2016-2017 school year were met; now it is time to really buckle down and do what our students need academically.”
She explained that moving forward, concentrating on rigor and the academic needs of the district is a top priority. A main focus will be on curriculum and instruction, including enhancing instructional strategies in mathematics at the middle school level and focusing on language arts reading and writing across the board.
“We need to take a look at the course offerings as well as the grading system we currently have in place. These are all areas that will be addressed during this coming school year,” Dr. Lishak said, adding, “Our curriculum has to align with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and that means our instructional strategies have to as well.”
In an effort to meet these goals, Assistant Superintendent Mary Malyska will be working closely with district supervisors to not only come up with innovative programs but also to ensure that South Plainfield teachers are provided the professional development necessary for South Plainfield students to be successful.
“We need to be able to compete - not just with the students in our surrounding area but with students throughout the state and the country. We will be looking at the top performing districts in the state, and our intention is to provide our students with the same course offerings,” Dr. Lishak said.
The superintendent continued, “The students here in South Plainfield are wonderful and eager to learn. As a district, we have to be able to provide the academic opportunities for them to grow as they move forward. We must ensure that, by the time our students get to high school, they have a strong foundation to build upon for their future college and career opportunities.”
Throughout her first year, Dr. Lishak, while working closely with the board of education, ensured that necessary repairs were made. This was accomplished by relocating and utilizing existing funds in district’s 2016-2017 budget. The district was able to focus on various issues that needed immediate attention, including but not limited to, repairing much-needed equipment, obtaining necessary classroom materials and texts, writing curriculum, and securing additional technology for the classroom.
“There were a lot of areas that needed to be addressed immediately, many facilities issues, and by taking a better look at where money was being spent and reallocating it into areas that were critical, we were able to address these matters as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Lishak, adding that student safety is a top priority. “We have to ensure our students are in a safe learning environment.”
The community’s passage of the referendum last March, she believes, is evidence that residents are supportive of the school district. “I am very excited to begin the many projects that will be supported through the referendum; we will be able to provide our students with the best, and that is what the students of South Plainfield deserve,” she said. “While there are areas of maintenance that will still need to be addressed each year, passage of the bond now enables us to truly concentrate on the necessities of the district in terms of what is most important, and that is academics and instruction.”
Over the past year, Dr. Lishak said she has enjoyed meeting and speaking with the students, visiting the classrooms, and opening the lines of communication among parents, students, teachers, and staff. “I feel I bring a new approach and fresh eyes to a district that has had a lot of transition over the past few years,” she said.
“Everybody is moving in the same direction, and everybody has a common goal,” the superintendent. “We know what we want to do – to provide South Plainfield students with everything they need to succeed, and we are all working hard to make that happen.”
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