NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Members of the West Essex Board of Education were congratulated earlier this week for receiving their Board Certification from the New Jersey School Boards Association during the recent Essex County School Board Association meeting. 

The professional development required the board to take part in extensive training in the areas of finance, governance, ethics, contract analysis, community relations and finance.

“It was an in-depth training and extremely worthwhile, we as a board learned a lot,” said board president Cynthia Egan.

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During last week's Essex County School Board meeting, best practices regarding school safety was the topic of the evening. During his superintendent report on Monday, West Essex Superintendent Damion Macioci—who served as the keynote speaker on a panel of experts during the county-wide meeting—updated the community of the district’s continued initiatives regarding student and staff safety.

“With the support of the board of education and cooperation of our staff, West Essex has adopted many of the 'best practices' from the New Jersey Department of Education's (NJDOE) Office of Preparedness and Emergency Planning,” he said. “We have worked closely with the NJDOE staff to schedule a variety of training opportunities for our district employees, including Front Office Considerations, Mental Health First Aid and Reunification Training. We are also in the process of coordinating assemblies for middle school students through the STOP the Violence Act; Start with Hello and Say Something."

Macioci thanked school safety officers Lisa Swanick, Lisa Tamburri and Pete Davis for their diligence and for taking advantage of numerous practices, protocols, free resources and grants that are implemented throughout the district. 

The superintendent noted that there are currently 144 cameras in the district and telephones in each classroom that can dial directly to the North Caldwell Police Department.

In other news, Macioci also announced that upcoming assemblies for ninth graders and their parents, sponsored by the North Caldwell Police Foundation and Municipal Alliance, will focus on the dangers of vaping.

During his principal’s report on Monday, West Essex High School Principal Caesar Diliberto provided an update on the Peer Mentoring Program. The program’s objectives are to “successfully transition freshmen to the high school; develop leadership skills and create a positive school climate.”

According to Diliberto, leaders are chosen through an application process followed by training and the program itself has a yearlong agenda, whereby the senior mentors are in constant contact with the freshmen students.  There are multiple formalized events and topics that are concentrated upon throughout the year.

Data received as feedback from the freshmen presented overwhelmingly positive results as to how the freshmen transitioned into the high school and the benefits of having a peer leader, Diliberto said.

Additionally, West Essex Middle School Principal Dr. Gina Donlevie reported that on Sept. 13, approximately 200 seventh grade students completed their team building exercises that are considered a “right of passage.” The students are now officially “Knights,” she added.

Back-to-school night at the middle school will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Prior to that, representatives from the Special Services department will be available to present and to welcome the parents.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Oct. 7.