As districts await guidance from the NJDOE and NJ Department of Health, New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz speak with Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Administrators (NJASA) about getting back to school. Ruiz who is Senate President Pro Tempore and directing the New Jersey Education Recovery Task Force, and Sweeney, weighed in on four key topics: (1) the immediate need for guidance (2) recommendations for districts to establish flat line budgets (3) how schools could safely and realistically reopen and (4) how schools are the community center for academics and mental health. Other topics discussed include future school construction, replacing textbooks with digital devices, connectivity for 90,000 plus students in a digital divide, and planning for the worst but hoping for the best. Join us at njasa.net to continue the discussion.
Pandemic challenges loom larger in a rural district like North Warren Regional School District, which stretches 110 square miles along the Appalachian Trail. In NJASA’s twelfth video podcast, Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Superintendent and Chief Education Officer Sarah Bilotti who shares the creative solutions the district has employed to offset financial challenges of Senate Bill 2, including replacing lights with LEDs for an equivalent savings to a teaching position. Ms. Bilotti proudly speaks of her district’s nationally award-winning marching band, color guard and successful music program, and the virtual ways they are honoring their graduates and student achievement award winners. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
COVID-19 didn’t change what North Brunswick Twp. Schools were doing, but it called for new leadership skillsets to inspire creative solutions to address the district’s pandemic challenges. Chief Education Officer Dr. Brian Zychowski connected with T-Mobile and was awarded a grant for 4,000+ mobile hotspots ensuring internet access to its diversified student population. This effort closed the digital divide and provides a fair and equitable education to all its students.
The district cooks and distributes 8,000 daily breakfasts and lunches, 6 days a week. Their nurses are working on a team with Rutgers University Behavioral Health to reach out to students and staff experiencing anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic, as well as other emotional and mental health concerns.
Dr. Zychowski also partners with the mayor on daily broadcasts, not only sharing information but honoring students and staff.
In this podcast, Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Dr. Zychowski about re-allocating their 2020-2021 budgets to satisfy the PPE and disinfecting expenses, funding North Brunswick Twp.’s charter schools, and the impossible task of reopening schools under the current social distancing requirements. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
Masks in the classroom, staggered schedules and distance learning are among the options being considered by the Senate Education Recovery Task Force, a panel of educators and public officials who will help provide guidance and insight on topics surrounding the reopening of New Jersey’s public schools. Led by Senator Teresa Ruiz, the task force will hear from experts on the digital divide, mitigating learning loss, offering resources to improve at-home special education, social-emotional learning, mental health and more. Equity remains an important focus to ensure all students have access to a quality education. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza, also a task force member, talks with Senator Ruiz about meeting the challenges as districts prepare for the fall. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
Long Branch Public Schools were “Future Ready” long before the pandemic, thanks to a massive technology reorganization spearheaded by Chief Education Officer Dr. Michael Salvatore. With the Future Ready Schools initiative, the district successfully interrupted the digital divide, providing equal access to high quality content which set the stage for distance learning during COVID-19. Salvatore credits his team of technical wizards who pivot constantly to ensure access continues. In addition to academics, the district is meeting social-emotional needs with mental health outreach, and creative ways for students to celebrate milestones from prom to graduation. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Dr. Salvatore, NJASA’s 2019 Superintendent of the Year, about key actions that helped his district during these challenging times. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
As we continue to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with NJASA Somerset County Executive Committee Representative Dr. Daniel Gallagher, Chief Education Officer, Bound Brook. The resilient district of Bound Brook was the site of the first confirmed case of Enterovirus EV-D68 in 2014. Dr. Gallagher put his crisis skills to work – including the rigorous cleaning protocols and frequent communications that helped his district successfully navigate the past outbreak. With COVID-19, the District is expanding access to Internet hot spots, antibody testing for staff and mental health concerns for students. He addressed a digital divide, accounted for diverse student needs, and more. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
After Governor Phil Murphy closed school buildings for the year, NJASA got a high-level look at how New Jersey’s districts are faring from AbdulSaleem Hasan, Assistant Commissioner of Field Services for the New Jersey Department of Education. Meeting school budgets, overcoming the digital divide and getting the resources for special education at home are just some of the challenges facing districts in the coming weeks. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Hasan about the challenges and successes, including examples other districts can follow. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
Lack of technology, language barriers, and food insufficiency were just some of the challenges faced by Chief Education Officer J. Kenyon Kummings as he led the charge to take Wildwood NJ School District online during a pandemic. His district, known as the Wildwood Warriors, harnessed its true warrior spirit with students, staff and parents coming together to make it happen. Kummings launched bilingual communications in English and Spanish, the latter to address its 66% minority population which is largely Hispanic. The district loaned Chromebooks, set up a farm-to-table breakfast and lunch pick-up program, and recreated their academic programs including options for Career to Technical Education. They also connected in meaningful ways with students and families on social media. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Kummings about the challenges and successes, including examples other districts can follow. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
In a matter of days, the Elizabeth school district had to get remote learning materials to 29,000 students. Chief Education Officer Olga Hugelmeyer and her team made it happen. The district reached out to Altice, which offered free internet access for families that had none. For PreK to grade 2, teachers developed packets, which were printed and mailed to families. Working with Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, the district set up a breakfast and lunch pick-up and delivery program. The district also reached out through social workers and guidance counselors for mental health support. Already, the district has lost four teachers and one of its support staff to COVID-19. In this podcast, NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza talks with Hugelmeyer about the challenges and successes, including examples other districts can follow. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.
The Morris School District had a jumpstart on digital learning and using technology in education even before the COVID-19 crisis. Chief Education Officer Mackey Pendergrast was part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Superintendents Technical Working Group. He helped to create the Future Ready Pledge, paving the way for digital learning in the nation’s schools. A forward thinker whose reputation earned him the New Jersey 2020 Superintendent of the Year award, Pendergrast initiated a bold approach for his district that prepared students for a global-based economy. That made for a seamless transition to digital learning. Pendergrast shares details on the district’s new distance learning program with NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza, including examples other districts can follow as we all face unprecedented challenges. Visit njasa.net to join us in exploring best practices together.