Edison Middle School Staff Recognized for Role in Removing Focus School Status

Edison Middle School staff members (L-R) Assistant Principal Steven Melendez; Principal Xavier Fitzgerald; Sylvia Wafford; Janet Wiggins; Amalia Morales; and Jeff Lafron. Credits: Alan Grossman

WEST ORANGE, NJ – In the early summer, Edison Middle School received the news that it now meets all the eligibility requirements to exit “Focus School” status. At its meeting on Monday, the West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) recognized the Edison staff members that played a major role in the school’s turn-around over the past five years.

According to the New Jersey Department of Education, a “Focus School” is among the approximately 10 percent of schools in the state that has a graduation rate below 75 percent and the widest gaps in achievement between subgroups of students.

“These have been learning years,” said Edison Principal Xavier Fitzgerald after thankiing the board for its recognition of the school’s staff. “We learned how to reach students that don’t get it right away.”

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Steven Melendez, assistant principal of the Edison Middle School, said was a long journey to exit Focus School status.

“We learned a lot about ourselves,” he said. “We could not have done it without the teachers and guidance counselors. In the end, we became a better school.”

Fitzgerald said that being removed from Focus School status is just the start of Edison becoming the best school it can possibly be.

“There is a lot more work that needs to be done,” said Fitzgerald, who added that the school is committed to further strengthening its academic programs.

Edison Middle School is now offering STEM, computer coding, engineering and Mandarin courses and will soon be launching a new academic honors program.

Other Edision staff members who joined the delegation being recognized were Sylvia Wafford and Janet Wiggins, of the school’s ELA program; school counselor Jeff Lafoon; and Amalia Morales, who teaches Spanish.

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