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Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year!

 

As it usually does, the calendar seems to have gone into fast forward during the last few weeks of summer and here we are getting ready to welcome students in just a few days. On behalf of Mrs. Pormilli, Mr. Baginski and Ms. Richardson, it is our pleasure to welcome you to the 2017-2018 School Year!

 

We have been spending time in our buildings over the past few weeks and we are so impressed with all the ways our team comes together to prepare for our new year. The custodial and maintenance staff has once again performed the miracle of finishing up dozens of projects (big and small) and have buffed up our buildings and grounds so we can put our best foot forward. Our transportation department has again pieced together the intricate puzzle that results in getting more than 8,500 students back and forth to school safely and our business, payroll and human resources departments haven’t stopped working all summer to ensure everyone is in place with the tools they need to succeed this year.

Our administrative team - together with teachers, guidance counselors and support staff - spent the summer re-writing curriculum, developing programs and finessing schedules to ensure every student is both challenged and supported.

Meeting our newest educators at new teacher orientation was, as always, particularly inspiring. Aside from the fact that meeting them tends to make me feel my age, witnessing their entrance into our district and our profession reminds me of the joy I still feel each time a new year begins.

The last school year saw the creation of the Academy of the Arts, updates to our K-5 math and K-12 science curriculum, the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards, and the conversion to new middle school grading changes and standards-based report cards for our elementary school. We also made significant facilities improvements and identified projects for the future.

Moving forward on the facilities end, we are prioritizing and planning for new projects, the most significant of which will be roof replacements and the installation of safety vestibules in our schools. We will also be decommissioning an old sewer plant and continuing to pursue energy savings throughout the year.

I’d like to thank our staff and students for their commitment to our energy program - your efforts are paying off. We were just notified that all 10 of our schools have achieved Bronze Level certification under the NJ Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program, which is earned by districts who demonstrate measurable progress and programs to conserve energy. To help put that distinction into perspective, only 14 schools in all of Ocean County received that certification - and 10 of them are right here in Jackson.

The 2017-2018 school year will feature the launch of the Academy of the Arts, curriculum updates in social studies and science K-5, the review of our 6-12 math and K-12 technology curriculum. We are also excited to expand an aquaponics program to additional schools. For those of you wondering what in the world aquaponics is, it is the cultivation of plants and fish in an integrated system. Wastewater from fish tanks provides nutrients for hydroponically grown plants, and then the plants filter water to return to the fish. This program offers learning in multiple disciplines including biology, physics, environmental science and math and we are among a small handful of districts who are embarking on this exciting field of learning.

Among our goals this year is also to increase awareness of student mental health and to support our the social and emotional learning of our students. We are working with the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide to enhance our ability to manage a traumatic loss and we look forward to the ways they will help us support our crisis teams and our caring school community.

Lastly, we are also excited to enhance student engagement practices district-wide, which fits in perfectly with the theme for this year’s Oct. 9 In-Service of “Student Engagement and Team Building.'' In my opinion, these two ideas are inextricably linked. We simply cannot do our best to engage students in meaningful, rigorous and relevant instruction if we do not approach our mission as a team.

Knowing the commitment and passion for students that our staff all shares, there is not a doubt in my mind that we will do just that. Much like how we are all pulling together to get those doors open to students, I look forward to working together during this new school year to support our students and to support each other.

 

Sincerely,

Steve Genco