WEST ORANGE, NJ -  Edison Middle School is one of the few Central Sixth Middle Schools in New Jersey, and with that comes some unique advantages and challenges. With the start of the new school year, Principal Xavier Fitzgerald and Assistant Principal Steve Melendez outlined the new curriculum changes, strategies and efforts to addresses those challenges in the face of an ever-changing and political state education law landscape.

Undeterred, Edison Middle School has continued to work through the summer, gearing up for the new school year, and addressing the unique challenge of helping fifth grade students transition into sixth grade middle schoolers academically, as well as socially and emotionally.  

In addition to the spring Student Orientation and  the June Parent Orientation, Assistant Principal Steve Melendez initiated a new summer program that brings both parents and students together in a more casual atmosphere.

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The first transitional orientation was held on Aug. 27 and the second on Aug. 29. Lasting about two hours, it includes advice from Principal Xavier Fitzgerald ("You are going from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond"),  figuring out how to work their new lockers, looking at their new classrooms, discussing their schedule, and having a scavenger hunt to familiarize them with the building.

Academically, several changes are in place. The Central Sixth will be implementing Connected Math 3 under the direction of 6-12 Math Supervisor Frank Ianucci.  This will be in full compliance with the common core standards.  In fact, the Central Sixth will be incorporating a total of 14 new common core standard requirements, raising the degree of academic rigor to a new level.  A new Social Studies program "History Alive" is ready to roll out..  HAP remains the same with two classes.  K-12 Language Arts Supervisor Jim Acquaviva has worked with Integrated Language Arts teachers to create a "Curriculum Map"; and a new Test Prep class for Language Arts and Math will be held once a week.

Edison will also hold parent-teacher Conferences on Nov. 18, 19 and 20, as well as continue the parent meetings anytime a parent requests one. Parents are welcome to attend special assemblies like the team honors assemblies and awards. The PTA is hosting a school-wide barcecue outside on Friday, Sept.13.

Lunch periods will remain the same in the extended session day, which is like a block schedule.  EMS has also added "Recess" to the lunch period, which Fitzgerald describes as "free time to socialize" and "get some air."  

Security has been enhanced at the school, with the installation of locks inside all classroom doors. A second set of security doors are being installed at the entrance. Visitors will now have to be buzzed in through the front door; sign in at Lobby Guard; be buzzed in by security guard Tillman at the front desk and be cleared to enter. The guidance office has been redesigned to make it more comfortable and accommodating.

Back to School Night will be held at Edison Middle School on Oct. 2.

"Ten years ago, schools did not look like they do today," said Fitzgerald.  "I would never have imagined that we would have smart boards in every classroom, or that we would go to online assessments.  But that's the nature of education. It's always changing."