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Switlik Unveils Model Classroom, Thanks to the Ocean First Foundation's $10,000 Grant

Switlik Elementary School Unveils New Model Classroom

Made Possible Through $10,000 Ocean First Grant

Cutting the ribbon at the Ocean First Model Classroom Grant event at Switlik Elementary School

 From left, Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco, Assistant Supt. Dan Baginski, Switlik Principal Kathleen McKiernan, Asst. Principal Renee Pagano-Hein, Asst. Supt. Nicole Pormilli, Teacher Monique Placek and representatives from the Ocean First Foundation get ready to cut the ribbon on the Ocean First Model Classroom at Switlik Elementary School.


JACKSON - Everyone knows that kids have energy. They get restless. They like to move around. 

Educators at the Switlik Elementary School in Jackson figured out how to work with this part of childhood development, instead of against it.  In doing so, the school earned a competitive $10,000 grant from the Ocean First Foundation’s Model Classroom grant program

“Through my years of teaching, I have learned that kids need different ways of learning,’’ said Switlik Teacher Monique Placek. “I realized that this is just an ideal space for them.’’

Placek joined representatives from Ocean First and district staff in cutting the ribbon on the Model Classroom Nov. 14. She was thrilled to be able to show her students utilizing various stations including a balance platform, stationary bike, bistro table setup with Chromebooks, and various seating stations - all designed to allow students to learn in ways that suit them best.

Switlik Elementary School’s Model Classroom is an innovative, personalized learning platform where traditional resources, highly adaptive assistive technologies, and multisensory materials complement personalized instruction to general and special education students.

According to the grant, this student-led classroom will expose learners to centers, where research, goal setting, community service, and student celebration are at the forefront of the skill set needed to be successful. Specifically, the grant provides for the purchase of Chromebooks, tablets and other technology, Osmo Classroom Kits, a collaboration table and furniture, community service project supplies, and a leveled text set library.

The grant was spearheaded by former teacher Danielle Parella, with support from Switlik Principal Kathy McKiernan and Assistant Principal Renee Pagano-Hein. Mrs. Placek said she is enjoying how well her students are learning in this environment.

“This grant has allowed us to create a space where we can offer students what they need to learn in a way that suits them,’’ she said. “I am so thrilled to be part of this classroom and so grateful to Ocean First for recognizing what our school wanted to do.’’

Switlik’s Model Classroom is one of several district schools who have earned Model Classroom grants in recent years, including another 2018 recipient - the Johnson Elementary School, which created a special classroom and program featuring a therapy dog named Mighty.

“We are honored to show our appreciation to the OceanFirst Foundation, which has a history of supporting creative and inventive approaches to education,” said Board of Education President John Burnetsky when the board recognized Switlik and Johnson Elementary School for earning the 2018 grants. “We are also very proud of our staff, whose initiative and creativity are truly remarkable. Your extra efforts are more important than ever, and are a huge part of allowing this district to stay at the forefront of innovation and excellence.”


Model Classroom in use at Switlik Elementary School


Student does his work on a balance platform


Students use Chromebooks at a bistro table station


Students work at flexible seating stations


Student stands at a flexible work station


Student works at a flexible seating station


Students do independent work at stations