SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The summer months have been busy ones in the South Plainfield School District (SPSD) as administrators put the finishing touches on various academic upgrades to be implemented for 2019-2020. 

“We are excited and looking forward to the new school year,” Superintendent Dr. Noreen Lishak told TAPinto South Plainfield. “Ensuring that our students have the best possible opportunity for success is our focus. We want to provide as many pathways to student success as possible.”

Over the summer, the district has been working on rewriting and creating alignment documents to meet state requirements for much of the kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum. Come September, book clubs focusing on genre study will be implemented into the fifth through eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and there will be full-implementation of the enVisions Math program in grade eight with a pilot program running in grade seven. 

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At the high school, a variety of new electives, including but not limited to, cyber security, history through film, and introduction to animation, will be implemented this fall and the broadcasting class and STEM-based Project Lead the Way program will be expanded.

“We are working hard to meet student requests,” said Lishak, adding,“We listen to our students and continue to add the types of courses they are interested in taking during the school year. The new offerings and program expansions will meet the wide range of student need.”

Several technology changes and advancements will also go into effect come September, including a one-to-one program at the high school and a continuation of the one-to-one program at both Grant and South Plainfield Middle School. Come September, all ninth through 12th grade students will receive a mobile device to use during the school day and at home and all fifth through eighth graders will have personal devices to use during the school day.

“Curriculum materials have largely shifted to online platforms,” Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Mary Malyska told TAPinto. “Most textbooks come with a host of products to extend learning through secured, interactive websites. Offering computers to our students will ensure equal access to these resources.”

All district computer classes for grades kindergarten through fourth grade have been changed to ‘STEM’ to represent all the components of the course. A new Character Education curriculum will be introduced at the elementary level with a focus on social and emotional learning district-wide and, through a partnership with the South Plainfield Fire Department, the fire prevention program, offered previously to K through fourth grade, will be expanded to grades five and six. Additionally, to enhance its financial literacy requirements, the district is also partnering with a local bank for a new program at the middle school.

“Educating the whole child is a district priority, and a sharper focus on character education will help us accomplish that,” said Malyska. 

During the upcoming academic year, the district also plans to continue its Parent Palooza program for a second year with a focus on community interests. According to Lishak, the plan is to expand the program through live video streams and interactive question and answer opportunities for those who are unable to attend the workshops.

“The district received such positive feedback on the Parent Palooza program and the many workshops that were offered,” said Lishak. “However, our parents’ and community members’ ability to attend the program with their very busy schedules and work obligations remains a challenge. We felt it was important to offer another avenue for parents to participate in the program and livestreaming and interactive participation from home is the option we are going to take advantage of for the coming school year.”

 The 2019-2020 school year will also see several administrative changes; Robert Diehl will serve as interim principal of the high school, Leo Whalen will serve as interim principal of the middle school, and Rosaura Valarezo will serve as interim principal of Riley with Dr. Robert Goman taking on the role of principal at Roosevelt.

“Our district administrative team is growing and strengthening,” added Lishak. “All are dedicated to moving the district forward, and we are excited to usher in this new school year together.”

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